WASHINGTON—Any lingering hopes from the auto sector that Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports would be quickly removed under President Biden were further diminished this month as the administration begins to readjust U.S. trade policies toward China.
During an Oct. 4 speech, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai outlined the Biden administration's next steps in the U.S.-China trade relationship, which includes keeping in place—for now—the Section 301 tariffs levied by the Trump administration on more than $350 billion worth of Chinese goods.
The prolonged tariff reality means parts makers are once again evaluating their supply chains and strategizing ways to mitigate any impact. But a sliver of hope remains as the administration considers reinstating a targeted tariff exclusion process for imports from China, and companies see a potential opening for negotiations, trade experts say.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is seeking public comments through Dec. 1 on whether it should restore previously extended exclusions on 549 import product categories, including some auto parts. Most of those exclusions expired last year.
"It's a good start, and companies are hopeful that it is just a start," said Mark Tallo, a member of the import and export practice group at Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg's Washington, D.C., office. The firm represents companies at various levels of the automotive supply chain.
Another expectation, Tallo said, is that this will be the start of a broader process to look at more product exclusions that were granted by the previous administration and open a new process to request exclusions for other products.