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Section 232 and 301 Tariff FAQ's

The words 'Trade war' aren't something to toss around lightly, However when President Trump made the initial Proclamations citing Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 it was the first volley in what has developed into a trade dispute with China. As the proclamations, statements and press releases are made, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest developments and importers like you are wondering if their products will be impacted by the increased duties and fees associated with Section 301 tariffs. We have compiled the following Section 232 and 301 tariff FAQ's to help you better understand the situation and stay informed. 

What is Section 232? Why did President Trump take this action?

Steel and Aluminum


Citing Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, President Trump issued two proclamations increasing duties on steel and aluminum products.

Proclamation regarding steel imports.

Proclamation regarding aluminum imports.

Trump stated that ….” I concurred in the Secretary’s finding that steel mill articles are being imported into the United States in such quantities and under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security of the United States, and decided to adjust the imports of steel mill articles, as defined in clause 1 of Proclamation 9705, as amended (steel articles), by imposing a 25 percent ad valorem tariff on such articles imported from most countries, beginning March 23, 2018.”

Steel: Originating from all countries except South Korea and Brazil. Argentina has agreed to quotas and Australia is exempt. 

Aluminum: Originating from all countries. Argentina has agreed to quotas and Australia is exempt.

Steel and Aluminum 3/23/18

Increased tariff amounts of 25% on Steel products and 10% on Aluminum went into effect.

Automobiles and Automotive Parts


The US Department of Commerce released a statement.

“U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross initiated an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended.  The investigation will determine whether imports of automobiles, including SUVs, vans and light trucks, and automotive parts into the United States threaten to impair the national security as defined in Section 232.”

At this time, any potential rate increase or implementation date is TBD.

What is Section 301? Why did President Trump take this action?

According to the International Trade Administration of the US Department of Commerce

Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 provides the United States with the authority to enforce trade agreements, resolve trade disputes, and open foreign markets to U.S. goods and services. It is the principal statutory authority under which the United States may impose trade sanctions on foreign countries that either violate trade agreements or engage in other unfair trade practices. When negotiations to remove the offending trade practice fail, the United States may take action to raise import duties on the foreign country's products as a means to re-balance lost concessions.

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) began an investigation under Section 301 of the Chinese government’s actions and policies regarding the transfer of technology, intellectual property and innovation. The subsequent tariff actions taken by President Trump and the USTR are based on that investigation. 

Explain to me about Section 301 Lists and the applicable tariffs.

Citing Section 301, the USTR has released a list of Chinese-made products to be subject to increased duties and fees. The products valued at $50 billion cover 1,102 US tariff lines. According to the USTR This list was compiled based on extensive interagency analysis and a thorough examination of comments and testimony from interested parties.  It generally focuses on products from industrial sectors that contribute to or benefit from the “Made in China 2025” industrial policy, which include industries such as aerospace, information and communications technology, robotics, industrial machinery, new materials, and automobiles.”

The proposed list consists of two separate sets of products. These are commonly referred to as List 1 and List 2.


List 1 – comprised of 818 product lines representing $34 billion in products imported from China. The proposed tariff on these products is 25%.

List 2 – is comprised of 284 new tariff lines representing approximately $16 billion worth of imports from China. The proposed tariff on these products is 25%.  


List 1 – The additional tariff of 25% became effective on July 6th.


List 3 – The USTR released a statement

“As a result of China’s retaliation and failure to change its practices, the President has ordered USTR to begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10 percent on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports.”

List 3 – The additional proposed tariff amount is now 25% and the effective date is TBD. However, the general opinion is this tariff could go into effect sometime in September, 2018.


The USTR released a statement extending the comment period for List 3

“This week, the President has directed that I consider increasing the proposed level of the additional duty from 10 percent to 25 percent.  The 25 percent duty would be applied to the proposed list of products previously announced on July 10. 


"Interested parties may address this possible increase in the level of the additional duty in their comments on the proposed action.  The proposed list and process for the public notice and comment period is set out in the Federal Register notice issued on July 10 and published in the Federal Register on July 17.  To view the July 17 notice, including the list of proposed products to be subject to additional duties, click here.  In light of the possible increase of the additional duty rate to 25 percent, the close of the written comment period is extended from August 30 to September 6, and the due date for requests to appear at the public hearing is extended to August 13.  These modifications to the comment period will be set out in a notice to be published shortly in the Federal Register."


List 2 – Finalized List released

The USTR released a statement regarding a subset or tranche of the List 2 tariffs. The finalized list will be subject to a 25% additional tariff which will begin on August 23, 2018. 


In a statement on September 17th referencing List 3 - "The United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released a list of approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that will be subject to additional tariffs.  In accordance with the direction of President Trump, the additional tariffs will be effective starting September 24, 2018, and initially will be in the amount of 10 percent.  Starting January 1, 2019, the level of the additional tariffs will increase to 25 percent. "

Click here to view the final tariff list.


List 3 tariff announced on September 17th will be imposed at a rate of 10%.


The List 3 tariff announced on September 17th will be increase to a rate of 25%


In a statement issued December 1, 2018 President Trump announced a Trade Truce with China which will be effective for 90-days. President Trump and Chinese President Xi agreed to the temporary trade cease-fire to allow time for more negotiations. This means that U.S. tariffs on goods from List 3, currently set at 10 percent will not rise to 25 percent on Jan. 1, 2019. 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent." 


The USTR issued a Notice of Modification of Section 301 Trade Action regarding the previously discussed List 3 tariff announced on September 17, 2018 imposed at a rate of 10%. That notice states: "The rate of additional duty for the products covered by the September 2018 action will remain at 10 percent until further notice."

05/08/19 The USTR issued another Notice of Modification of Section 301 Trade Action regarding List 3. Effective May 10, 2019 the 10% tariff on List 3 will increase to 25%. The Action states in part"In accordance with the direction of the President, the U.S. Trade Representative (Trade Representative) has determined to modify the action being taken in this Section 301 investigation by increasing the rate of additional duty from 10 percent to 25 percent for the products of China covered by the September 2018 action in this investigation."

The USTR issued a press release stating:

......"The Office of the United States Trade Representative intends to publish a notice in the Federal Register next week that extends the amount of time certain goods exported from China have to enter the United States before they will be subject to an additional tariff increase from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Covered products that were exported from China to the United States prior to May 10, 2019 will remain subject to an additional 10 percent tariff if they enter into the U.S. before June 15, 2019. Originally, the deadline to enter the U.S. before the goods would be subject to an additional 25 percent tariff was June 1, 2019.

This limited extension will further account for customs enforcement factors and the transit time between China and the United States by sea."

05/13/19 On May 13th, the USTR released the proposed list which would be subject to additional Section 301 tariff of up to 25%. That list can be reviewed here

 A public hearing will be held by the USTR on June 17, 2019 and requests to appear at that hearing are due by June 10th. Written comments must be submitted by June 17th. The implementation date of this latest proposed tariff action is not known, however it could be any time after June 24th. 


August 1, 2019, President Trump stated in a series of social media Tweets that a ten percent (10%) tariff will be imposed on all imported goods from China beginning September 1, 2019. Referred to as List 4, this includes nearly all the remaining imports not previously impacted by Section 301. 


August 23, 2019 President Trump instructed the USTR to increase tariffs on $550 in Chinese products by an additional 5%. The USTR notice can be viewed here

To summarize the announcement:

  • List 4a, currently scheduled to begin on September 1, 2019 will now implement at 15%.
  • All previous Lists currently implemented at 25% tariff will increase to 30% on October 1, 2019.
  • List 4b, currently scheduled to begin on December 15, 2019 will implement at 15%.

What is the process for requesting a product exclusion from Section 301 tariffs?

07/11/18 The USTR issued  instructions in its July 11, Federal Register Notice (83 FR 32181) which detail the process by which US stakeholders may request products subject to Section 301 be excluded from the additional duties.

US Customs and Border Protection issued CSMS #19-000260  Section 301 Products Excluded from Duties - Liquidation Extension Request which can be viewed in its' entirety HERE.

List 1 Product Exclusions

For your reference, the Office of the Trade Representative has published the following Notices which detail the products that are excluded from List 1 – comprised of 818 product lines representing $34 billion in products imported from China. The proposed tariff on these products is 25%. Please refer to the links below for full details:

A Notice by the Trade Representative, Office of United States on 12/28/2018

A Notice by the Trade Representative, Office of United States on 03/25/2019

A Notice by the Trade Representative, Office of United States on 04/18/2019

A Notice by the Trade Representative, Office of United States on 05/14/2019

A Notice by the Trade Representative, Office of the United States on 06/04/19

How can I tell if my product will be subject to Section 301 tariffs? 

The USTR has created a searchable database with instructions to assist importers. How to Navigate the Section 301 Tariff Process

Where do I find a copy of all of the the USTR statements?

Watch this space as we strive to keep you up-to-date on developments related to Section 232 and 301 tariffs. If you have questions regarding these tariff actions we invite you to contact our experienced team of customs brokerage professionals.  

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