The online portal that the US Trade Representative created for processing exclusion requests for List 3 is working, but not in the way that many companies hoped. The USTR has denied a majority of the hundreds of List 3 exclusion requests it has decided. The USTR still has thousands of exclusions requests to review and it’s impossible to know if the approval rate will improve, but, from the small batch of rejections, it is clear that companies are just not answering the questions posed to them.
Let us look at how one particular company fared. As of this morning, the USTR rejected around sixteen of this company’s exclusion requests. The USTR’s denials would seem to make little sense at first blush. This company’s exclusion requests are well written and are supported by impressively-credentialed testimonials. A Congressman submitted a letter in support, but the USTR still denied the exclusion requests. Here is USTR’s official reason for rejecting the exclusion requests: “your request was denied because the request failed to show that the imposition of additional duties on the particular product would cause severe economic harm to you or other U.S. interests.”
From the supporting testimonials (we do not have access to important confidential information), the company may not have customized its arguments as required. Except for the product description, all of its sixteen tariff exclusion requests are identical. The testimonials are identical. While the testimonials address how the Section 301 tariffs are hurting the company, they do not speak to the impact of the tariffs on the particular product that is the subject of a specific Section 301 tariff exclusion request. Clearly, a cookie-cutter approach does not help.
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