301 Tariff Investigation to Intensify

Even with a new administration being inaugurated on January 20, 2021, there doesn’t appear to be much relief coming swiftly for 301 tariffs. In fact, the current USTR has perpetuated the Section 301 tariff investigations regarding Vietnam’s timber products (illegal harvesting) and currency valuation, or more specifically devaluation, an issue we’ve seen discussed more recently with Chinese imports. It isn’t an unprecedented act to declare a violation and levy tariffs so close to a presidential change, considering these have been in process since early October, as the Trump administration sought to apply pressure to trading partners that were skirting issues of currency manipulation and illegal goods. With the early Section 301 tariffs against China and later the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, suppliers have been leaving China for more pleasant conditions in Vietnam, driving increased scrutiny on the nation.

The USTR launched the Section 301 investigations into Vietnam’s currency valuation and timber products in October and set a Nov. 12 deadline for public comments. Hearings will be held virtually on Dec. 28 for timber products and Dec. 29 to investigate currency devaluation. Requests to appear at either hearing are due by Dec. 10. Post-hearing rebuttal comments will then be due by Jan. 6 for timber products and Jan. 7 for currency devaluation issues.

“While these latter dates are just two weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Biden, it would not be unprecedented for the Trump administration to declare a Section 301 violation in one or both investigations and impose tariffs or other restrictions on imports from Vietnam within that timeframe.”

STR Trade

If you work with imports from Vietnam and have concerns about the Section 301 tariff investigation, Edward J. Zarach & Associates can help you formulate comments and statements to include in this process. We’re also on hand to help you find new suppliers in other regions that aren’t affected by Section 301s. Reach out to your Zarach representative to put together a statement and a logistics plan to suit your business with us!