US industry groups seek hearing, more on Biden’s China tariff hike

By Thomson Reuters Jun 14, 2024 | 3:39 PM

By David Lawder and David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A wide swath of pro-trade American business groups has asked the Biden administration for another month to comment on plans to impose steeper tariffs on Chinese imports of electric vehicles, batteries, solar products and other goods, effectively delaying the Aug. 1 start date for many of the duties.

The group of 173 trade associations organized under the “American For Free Trade” umbrella said in a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office seen by Reuters on Friday that a 30-day extension in a public comment period until July 28 was “in the public interest”

The group, representing manufacturers, retailers, technology firms, agribusiness groups, energy companies and transport firms, also requested that USTR hold a public hearing on the matter, as it did in 2017 and 2018 for prior tariffs.

President Joe Biden last month announced the tariff hikes to protect U.S. manufacturers in strategic sectors from Chinese excess industrial capacity that is flooding global markets with exports. USTR subsequently announced a short, 30-day public comment period, with a quadrupling of duties on Chinese EVs to over 100% and a doubling of semiconductor duties to 50% scheduled to scheduled to start on Aug. 1

“We are actively surveying our collective membership to gather feedback on the projected impacts of the proposed (tariff) modifications and document the in a manner that is most helpful to USTR,” the groups said in the letter, dated July 6 and filed to USTR’s comment portal.

“However, our members have indicated that they require additional time to gather and assess such information given” the breadth of the breadth of the 387 product categories slated for higher duties and the submission format.

A spokesperson for USTR could not immediately be reached for comment on the groups request.

News of the request comes as another policy group led by the United Steelworkers union and domestic manufacturing companies called for even stronger trade barriers to Chinese imports. The Alliance for American Manufacturing said the U.S. should reinstate a long-expired legal tool to halt Chinese import surges enacted as China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Among the groups signing the letter were the Semiconductor Industry Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, the American Chemistry Council, the Beer institute, the National Retail Federation, the Halloween and Costume Association and the American Trucking Association.

The signatories included auto and truck parts associations, but not trade groups representing auto and EV manufacturers.

Many of the groups use and sell goods imported from China and they said in the letter that they employ tens of millions of Americas through “vast supply chains”.

(Reporting by David Lawder and David Shepardson)