USTR Removes Tariffs From Hundreds of Chinese Goods

Written by SK Ashby

The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) solicited public comments on exemptions from Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods all the way back in December, but the Biden administration had not acted on any possible exemptions until now.

The representative's office has now released a list of over 350 items that will no longer be subjected to tariffs following an apparently lengthy review.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office is reinstating the exclusions for 352 items, it said in a statement on Wednesday. The reinstated exclusions include a wide variety of machinery, manufacturing components and consumer goods, ranging from television-screen parts to backpacks, bicycles and pillows. [...]

The main considerations in whether to reinstate the exclusions were whether a product or comparable product was available from sources in the U.S. or in third countries, and changes in the global supply chain since 2018. They also included efforts by importers or U.S. purchasers to source the product from the U.S. or third countries, and domestic U.S. capacity to produce the product.

In other words, the review found that these tariffs serve no practical purpose beyond raising costs for average consumers. The goods subjected to tariffs were not cutting into the business of American producers in any case and exempting them from tariffs will make no material difference.

If the formal or officially-stated goal of Trump's trade war was to reorganize our economy to produce more of these goods ourselves, it failed. The structure of our economy hasn't changed at all and record-high inflation makes it even less appealing to invest in domestic operations that now cost more than it ever has before.

We spent tens of billions in higher costs stemming from Trump's trade wars and we have nothing to show for it. Ending the lingering trade battles has been politically challenging, but there will be even less public support for any future effort to impose tariffs with no clear, obtainable goal; no end game. China was never going to throw up their hands and surrender to what was ultimately a debate over own sovereignty from their point of view.