In February 2019, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer testified before the House Ways & Means Committee regarding U.S.-China trade issues (see Trump and Trade Update of February 28, 2019). During the hearing, Lighthizer testified that an exclusion request process would be instituted on the third tranche of imported Chinese products subject to a 10 percent tariff since September 24, 2018, only if that tariff were increased to 25 percent. Despite Congress’s instruction in the recent appropriations law funding the federal government through September that such an exclusion request process be implemented (see Trump and Trade update of February 19, 2019), the Office of the USTR reiterated that it would only institute such a process if the tariffs were raised to 25 percent.
The USTR’s response was not well-received by many members of the committee, and in follow-up written responses to questions raised at the February hearing, and now published by the Ways & Means Committee, Lighthizer stated that “Members of Congress believe that we should have an exclusion process for List 3. For this reason, we have begun preparations to launch a process by the end of the month.” To date, however, the Section 301 web page on the USTR’s website contains no such exclusion process and no notice has been published in the Federal Register. Trump and Trade continues to monitor this situation and will report further once USTR provides an official notice.