To date, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) has issued numerous sets of exclusions (covering a large number of products) from the Section 301 duties (Lists 1, 2 and 3). These duties are currently assessed on nearly all products from China by reason of the ongoing trade dispute over alleged forced transfers of intellectual property and related matters. Products described in an exclusion are exempt from payment of the China 301 duties. These excluded products can be imported without payment of the China 301 duties. In addition, companies that had been paying the China 301 duties on products now covered by an exclusion can obtain duty refunds retroactive to the date the assessment of the duties began (which varies from List to List).
Exclusions under Section 301 are not specific to the requestor. Any company importing a product described by an exclusion may import the goods under the exclusion and apply for retroactive refunds to the extent that the liquidation of the underlying entry has not become final. In many instances a company may not be aware that a product it imports is excluded (either because it requested exclusions on other products or simply didn’t participate in the exclusion process).
As such, we recommend that companies that have been paying China 301 duties review their products against the published lists of excluded products (the most recent of which was issued on October 23, 2019). Below are links to all of the relevant USTR notices. Companies should be aware that in some instances the language of an exclusion may be ambiguous, or the published exclusion references a tariff classification other than that historically used by an importer. In these situations care should be taken in evaluating whether a product is in fact covered by an exclusion, and whether there are any potential ramifications should an importer switch to a new tariff classification in order to use a published exclusion.
Should you have any questions, or if we can be of assistance in evaluating the tariff status of any particular item, please do not hesitate to contact us.
USTR China 301 Exclusion Notices Issued (as of October 23, 2019)