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Johnson presses USTR on tariff exclusion extension requests

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Bryan Steil.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Congressman Bryan Steil (WI-1) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer regarding the Section 301 tariff exclusion process as a number of Wisconsin businesses have expressed concerns and frustration with the process carried out by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

According to letter issued by Johnson, USTR granted exclusions from the imposed tariffs to some of these businesses for one year on May 14, 2019, due to either the tariff causing severe economic harm to the business or China being the only source for the product.

The businesses requested another one-year extension of the exclusion request due to China remaining the only source for the product or the tariff continuing to cause severe economic harm to the business.  

Johnson said many Wisconsin businesses have had their exclusion extension requests denied by USTR without explanation.

A letter drafted by Johnson and Steil to Lighthizer requests that USTR provide information on the rationale for the denials to Wisconsin businesses and generally, an explanation of USTR’s process for reviewing these requests.

“As we have repeatedly warned, the trade war places U.S. manufacturers and businesses at a competitive disadvantage to businesses in other countries," the Wisconsin legislators wrote. "The winners from the trade war are Washington lobbyists, trade lawyers, and politically connected businesses and industries while hard-working and earnest businesses in Wisconsin and across the country suffer the negative economic consequences. We urge the Administration to listen to the stories of these businesses, and end the self-inflicted harm from the trade war.”