Inept Government Paperwork Could Lead to Big China Tariff Refund

Arlington, VA, January 4, 2023-"U.S. companies have handed over nearly $161 billion to the government because of former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods,” according to Politico Pro. “If a long running court case pays off in early 2023, they could eventually get a big chunk of that money back.

“Thousands of companies such as Coca-Cola, Joann Stores and Walmart could get a share of one of the biggest government payouts in history, assuming the verdict holds up on an expected appeal that could go all the way to the Supreme Court.

“A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which collects the duties, declined to say how much the government could potentially be forced to pay, ‘since the matter is still under litigation.’

“The decision now awaited from the Court of International Trade has been brewing since 2020, when a group of importers filed a case accusing the Trump administration of exceeding its authority to impose tariffs and violating the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the rulemaking process of the executive branch. Key to the decision is whether the Biden administration followed proper procedure when it denied thousands of requests to exempt certain imports from the tariffs.

“Other companies quickly jumped onto the case, flooding the docket with thousands of additional plaintiffs. Rather than hear each complaint individually, the court designated one ‘master case’ whose fate will determine all the others.

“After more than two years of litigation and one more set of oral arguments scheduled for February, the CIT could finally issue a ruling in the coming months. The Biden administration has staunchly defended Trump’s right to impose the duties and the role that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative played in deciding which products were hit.

“Trump initially imposed duties on $50 billion worth of imports from China in the summer of 2018 in two separate tranches. He ratcheted that up over approximately the next 15 months in response to Chinese retaliation and setbacks in negotiations with Beijing. He eventually hit more than $300 billion worth of Chinese goods with tariffs ranging from 7.5% to 25%.

“HMTX, a luxury vinyl floor tile manufacturer that produces most of its product in China, is at the forefront of the court case asking for the tariffs to be struck down.

“‘We have sought alternative sourcing, including here in the United States, and that has only made a small dent in the demand we have for our products,’ Harlan Stone, the company’s CEO, said. ‘We are dependent on a large output and China is the primary source of that large output.’”

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