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Senators Lankford and Coons Lead Letter to USTR Robert Lighthizer

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Chris Coons (D-DE) along with Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) today sent a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to urge him to continue to grant tariff exemptions to products that previously received an exclusion until the tariffs are completely lifted. The letter also requests that USTR inform Congress of any resources needed to fully implement the List 3 exclusion process. Lankford and Coons thanked Lighthizer for creating an exclusion process for List 3 and emphasized it is in the best interest of the nation to automatically renew product-wide exclusion granted under the List 1 and 2 exclusion process.

Earlier this year, Lankford and Coons introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Import Tax Relief Act which would require the Executive Branch to create an exclusion process for List 3 (and any future list) of Chinese imports subject to Section 301 tariff imposition. In the House, a companion version has been introduced by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN).

On Thursday, June 13, Lankford and Coons will discuss the Import Tax Relief Act at an event hosted by the Washington International Trade Association. Lankford is a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, which has jurisdiction of reciprocal trade agreements and tariffs.

For the signed letter, please CLICK HERE.

June 12, 2019

The Honorable Robert Lighthizer

United States Trade Representative

600 17th St, NW

Washington, DC 20508

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

Thank you for your continued engagement with Congress as your office works to resolve a number of outstanding trade issues.  Strong leadership and effective policy implementation are essential qualities for a successful resolution to these difficult and complex matters of paramount importance to our nation’s economy.

We want to thank you for your commitment to creating an exclusion process for List 3 of Chinese imports subject to tariffs imposed pursuant to section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. An exclusion process for List 3 is one of the goals of the Import Tax Relief Act we introduced in February.  We have talked at length about this, and I am glad that we agree that a clearly defined and executed exclusion process provides needed relief to US importers who are unduly burdened by the tariffs, the costs of which are passed on to American consumers.

As we near the one-year mark of the application of tariffs on Chinese imports included on Lists 1 and 2, we anticipate your office will see the value in automatically granting renewed exclusions for products which had already received an exclusion.  Allowing previously granted exclusions to expire automatically even though there is no change in circumstances would be a mistake, and we urge you to ensure that products granted an exemption continue to be exempted from tariff application under any list until the tariffs have been completely lifted.  Doing so would benefit thousands of U.S. businesses and American families.

Finally, because List 3 is substantially larger than Lists 1 and 2 combined, we are concerned about the timely processing of exclusion applications under this process.  Please communicate to us whether USTR requires additional resources from Congress in order to effectively implement this process.  Furthermore, we advise that List 3 exclusions granted should include relief retroactive to September 2018, when the initial tariff was imposed.

It is important the US stand up to Chinese mercantilism, but ever-escalating tariffs threaten our nation’s long-term economic stability.  You and President Trump have been clear from the beginning that the tariffs on Chinese imports were imposed in order to bring China to the negotiating table and come to a deal.  We urge you to keep negotiating. Find a resolution that holds China accountable without continuing to harm American consumers and businesses.

Thank you again for your attention and prompt response to this matter.