Trade Court Upholds Section 301 Tariffs on Chinese Goods

The US Court of International Trade has upheld the 25% Section 301 tariffs on goods from China.


The court in a decision on March 17 rejected the challenge of around 3,600 importers seeking to have the tariffs removed “on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods,” according to a statement from Timothy Brightbill, co-chair of law firm Wiley Rein LLP’s International Trade Practice.

The US Trade Representative imposed the tariffs in 2018 under the Trump administration and applied additional modifications in 2019. An in-depth look at the case history is here.

“Importantly, the court made clear that it may not reweigh evidence or opine on USTR or the president’s policy choices, such as the appropriate way to address China’s numerous unfair trade practices,” Brightbill said.

After the opinion, the next step is for the importers to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

International trade lawyer Lewis Leibowitz, owner of the Law Office of Lewis E. Leibowitz, questioned the court’s decision.

“The Court of International Trade gave a pass to the government for not analyzing public comments on the wisdom of enlarging the China tariffs in 2018,” he told SMU.

“The tariffs have not changed China’s behavior, in large part because Chinese manufacturers do not pay the tariffs; their US downstream customers do,” he added. 

He noted that when US companies voice concerns about the wisdom of imposing tariffs on US companies importing Chinese goods, suppliers are not given a real hearing until years after the government has made decisions damaging their businesses. 

“This is an unfortunate result,” Leibowitz said. 

By Ethan Bernard,