Bennet, Colleagues Ask Trump Trade Official to Explain Latest Tariff Decision that Could Hurt American Businesses

USTR previously offered specific product exclusions for American businesses that could face undue harm, but failed to do so with new tariffs

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and ten colleagues today sent a letter to the Trump administration’s lead trade official asking why the administration’s latest round of tariffs on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods did not include exclusions to protect American businesses. For earlier rounds of tariffs, exclusions apply in cases where an American business needs a specific product from a targeted country that is not made anywhere in the United States and the inability to access that product would cause severe economic harm to the business.

“We write to raise concerns regarding the recently implemented 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods (Round 3) pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Specifically, we have concerns about the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) decision not to include an exclusions process in this latest round of tariffs. The decision not to include an exclusions application process will have a negative impact on American businesses and American consumers,” the senators wrote.

The senators noted that, in prior tariff rounds, the USTR recognized the potential harmful effects on a U.S. business if exclusions were not in place and asked USTR Ambassador Robert Lighthizer why the same consideration was not extended to the most recent round of tariffs. The letter outlined the following questions for Ambassador Lighthizer:

  • Does the Administration intend to offer an exclusions application process?
  • If so, how will that process be implemented?
  • If not, what is the rationale for providing no exclusions process in Round 3 of the 301 tariffs when Rounds 1 and 2 included one?

Senators joining Bennet on the letter include Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Doug Jones (D-AL).

A copy of the letter is available HERE.