Monday, October 4, 2021

Vietnam Section 301 Tariffs Averted

On October 1, 2021, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced an agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that addresses U.S. concerns in the Vietnam Timber Section 301 investigation. This is the first 301 investigation to address environmental concerns. The Agreement secures commitments that will help keep illegally harvested or traded timber out of the supply chain and protect the environment and natural resources. Ambassador Tai determined that the Agreement provides a satisfactory resolution of the matter subject to investigation and that no trade action is warranted at this time. Going forward, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will monitor Vietnam’s implementation of the Agreement.

The Agreement contains multiple commitments by Vietnam on issues related to illegal timber, including commitments to improve its Timber Legality Assurance System; keep confiscated timber (i.e., timber seized for violating domestic or international law) out of the commercial supply chain; verify the legality of domestically harvested timber regardless of export destination; and work with high-risk source countries to improve customs enforcement at the border and law enforcement collaboration.

The USTR investigation was initiated in October 2020 under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The full text of the Agreement is available here. The Federal Register notice summarizing the Trade Representative’s determination provides additional background, and is available here.

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