Enacted Spending Bill Includes Trade Relief for Georgia Businesses

  • Federal spending bill meant to avert another government shutdown expands the business exemption process for China tariffs. Business reliant on one of the lion-share of Chinese goods subjected to U.S. tariffs will soon be able to petition the U.S. Trade Representative for an exemption from the additional duties.
  • Several businesses across Georgia are expected to apply for the exemption, as Georgia is the seventh largest import state.

Buried in Section 301 of the explanatory statement to the federal spending bill, which was signed Friday to avert another government shutdown, was a win for Georgia businesses negatively impacted by the trade war with China.

Since the trade war began in July, the Trump administration has placed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods over three rounds of tariffs. Georgia businesses have been able to petition the U.S. Trade Representative for exceptions to the $50 billion of duties announced in early rounds, but the third and most expansive round of tariffs has not included a process for businesses to petition for an exception. The third round imposed import taxes on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods in September 2018.

Establishing an exclusion process is good news for Georgia businesses weathering the trade storms. While the expanded exemption process weakens the weight of the tariffs against China, it also eases tariff-related pressures for Georgia companies. As the seventh largest importer, Georgia benefits more than most states from flexibility in U.S. tariff policy. In 2016, the peach state imported more goods from China than any other country, totaling $18.5 billion.

To be excluded from the tariffs, the business’s petition has to address several factors, including showing severe economic harm to the requester from the additional duties, the rarity of the product outside China, and that the good isn’t strategically important or related to Chinese industrial programs including “Made in China 2025”.

The U.S. Trade Representative has 30 days upon the legislations enactment to establish and expand the exemption process.

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Offering exporters the option to apply for exemptions of import duties is merely slapping a bandaid on a bigger problem. The bill does nothing for Americans whose livelihood depends on growing not restricting exports to China. In normal times Georgia exports large amounts of wood and wood products, paper and cardboard, aircraft and medical instruments, peanuts to China. No relief in sight for them. I think it’s more accurate to say: “As the seventh largest importer, Georgia suffers more than most states from the arbitrary imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods.” Once you admit the burden tariffs impose on Americans,… Read more »