- Seven days of tariff testimony held by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) begin today and run through June 25, according to a hearing announcement released Friday. The hearings are a chance for businesses and other organizations to voice opinions surrounding the fourth list of proposed tariffs of up to 25% on $300 billion in Chinese goods.
- More than 300 witnesses plan to provide testimony at the hearings, including businesses like iRobot and New Balance, associations like Entertainment Software Association and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, and supply chain stakeholders like the Virginia Port Authority and Port of New Orleans.
- More than 600 companies and associations voiced opposition to the tariffs ahead of the hearing in a letter to the Trump administration urging a deal with China that "addresses longstanding structural issues, improves U.S. global competitiveness and eliminates tariffs." The letter, organized by the group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, was signed by organizations including Levi Strauss, Ikea, PetSmart and Port of Los Angeles.
The hearings unfolding over the next seven business days are a chance for the public to voice any opinions surrounding the fourth list of proposed tariffs. The latest round would impact $300 billion in goods affecting numerous industries from electronics manufacturers, clothing companies, the chemical industry and the nation's ports.
Representatives from multiple ports are attending the hearing because if round four tariffs go into place, they would hit gantry cranes, the large ocean-side cranes used to transfer containers from ships to land. Port of Virginia CEO John Reinhart testified before the USTR on the same issue last year and a spokesperson said the port's testimony this week would be similar.
"Simply put, the cost of imposing tariffs on these high-cost, low tech pieces of equipment would do nothing to address China’s egregious violations of intellectual property and forced technology transfers," Reinhart said last year.
The ports say there is only one manufacturer in the world that specializes in these cranes, ZPMC, and it is located in China. Ports across the country are investing in new Neo-Panamax cranes. Now that the Panama Canal has expanded to allow larger ships to navigate its channels, the U.S. ports are making similar changes in their infrastructure to accommodate larger ships.
Gantry cranes were removed from the last list of tariffs. It's not clear why these cranes ended up on the fourth list of proposed tariffs after the USTR said products given exclusions on prior lists "will not be affected" by this latest tranche.
The Virginia Port Authority currently has two gantry cranes on order that it expects to receive in 16 to 18 months. The port was waiting on four cranes at the cost of $40.9 million when it went before the USTR last year. A tariff "of up to 25 percent" could increase the cost of these cranes by millions of dollars.
This is the same reason Port Everglades Acting CEO Glenn Wiltshire will provide testimony today before the USTR.
"A 25 percent duty would immediately increase Port costs by $10,350,000 for a current gantry crane order," Wiltshire said in his prepared remarks provided to Supply Chain Dive.
In its request to appear before the USTR, Roku, which sells TV streaming technology, said it supports the agency's goals in "challenging unfair practices, such as forced technology transfers, forced licensing agreements, and [intellectual property rights] theft." But it concluded the tariffs would "undoubtedly decrease global sales."
New Balance said in its request the tariffs could hamper its ability to invest in its domestic factories and maintain current production levels.
The government's plan to increase tariffs has so far received more than 1,500 comments since it was posted on the Federal Register a month ago.
"We will eventually make a deal, but if we don’t, the president is perfectly happy with continuing the tariff movements that we’ve already announced, as well as imposing the new ones that he has temporarily suspended," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC today.
The seven days of hearings mean the tariffs could take effect after July 2 at the earliest. This would be after a required seven day rebuttal comment period, according to Reuters.