On October 18, 2019, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced an exclusion process for products included on China Section 301 List 4A, which covers approximately $120 billion of imports. Imported products on this list are presently subject to an additional 15 percent duty, which went into effect September 1, 2019 – that duty rate is scheduled to be reduced by half starting in mid-February.

Importers of products on List 4A must file exclusion requests with the agency by January 31, 2020. Once USTR posts a request, there is a 14-day comment period for interested stakeholders to oppose or support, followed by a 7-day rebuttal period for the requestor to respond. USTR will grant approvals and denials on a rolling basis.

If granted, any importer of a product may utilize an exclusion, which would apply retroactively to the September 1, 2019 effective date. Importers may use an exclusion going forward, and also may seek duty refunds through U.S. Customs and Border Protection. USTR has set a uniform expiration date of September 1, 2020 for List 4A exclusions, regardless of the date they are granted.

Pursuant to the U.S.-China Phase One trade deal signed January 15, tariffs on List 4A products will be reduced to 7.5 percent from 15 percent. According to a draft Federal Register Notice made available this week, the effective date of the roll back is February 14, 2020. The rate reduction is not retroactive from September 1, 2019.

The exclusion process does not cover products on List 4B, which were scheduled to be assessed an additional 15 percent duty effective December 15, 2019. As a result of the Phase One negotiations and agreement, the President suspended indefinitely the application of additional 301 tariffs on List 4B products.