U.S. Lawmakers Urge Exclusion Process for Latest Trump Tariffs

(Bloomberg) -- A bipartisan group of almost 170 members of Congress is urging the Trump administration to establish a process for U.S. companies to seek relief from the president’s latest tariffs on Chinese imports.

Republican Representative Jackie Walorski of Indiana and Democrat Ron Kind of Wisconsin sent a letter Monday signed by 167 other members, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asking for an exclusion process for duties on $200 billion in goods imposed last month.

There have been three rounds of tariffs, starting with 25 percent duties on lists of $34 billion and $16 billion in products, plus a 10 percent levy on $200 billion. While the administration is allowing companies to seek relief from duties on the first two lists, it hasn’t put a process in place for the third tranche on grounds there’s time for firms to adjust before the rate increases to 25 percent on Jan. 1.

“The lack of such a process for this most recent list is a glaring omission, particularly given its size in relation to the first two lists,” the letter from the lawmakers said. “An exclusion process is vital to ensuring that U.S. companies can seek relief.”

The National Retail Federation and 120 other organizations in the Americans for Free Trade coalition are also seeking an exclusion process for the third list. Decisions are based on whether a product is available only from China, whether duties “would cause severe economic harm” to the company or U.S. interests, and whether the item is strategically important.

As of Oct. 12, the Office of U.S. Trade Representative has posted more than 2,700 requests for relief from the initial list, denied 543 of them and 54 are being reviewed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to determine whether an exclusion can be administered, according to data published by the government.

There have been 100 requests posted so far for the list of $16 billion in goods, with no decisions yet, data show.

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