CHINA - Chinese domestic firms will be able to submit U.S. tariff exclusion applications to the government starting March 2, the country's Ministry of Finance announced February 18. 
Applications for one-year waivers must be submitted by Chinese firms. U.S. companies are not eligible to directly submit requests. The country says applications will be reviewed in no more than three business days. Buyers must receive their waiver approvals before their cargo can get past customs.
Similar to U.S. applications, Chinese companies must demonstrate how tariffs are negatively impacting their business. The Chinese announcement says harm must have been caused in one or more of the following ways:
  • The Chinese importer faces challenges seeking alternative sources of supply; 
  • The tariffs cause serious economic damage to the applicant; 
  • The tariffs cause major negative structural impacts on the relevant industries or lead to serious social consequences.


The National Hardwood Lumber Association is urging U.S. hardwood exporters to communicate with their Chinese customers and encourage as many Chinese entities as possible to push for tariff exclusions on U.S. hardwood. 

The first phase of a trade deal was signed by both the U.S. and China last month. Both countries appeared optimistic.

Tariffs set to begin December 2019 were scrapped. President Trump also agreed to lower tariffs on $120 billion worth of products down to 7.5 percent. Tariffs on $250 billion worth of products are still in place.
A second phase of the deal should begin around November, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.
The trade war had a major effect in 2019 - causing a $53 billion decline in U.S. imports from China and a $14.5 billion decline in exports to China, according to recently released trade data.

The numbers appear to be drastically in the favor of the United States. But because the U.S. exports much less to China than it imports, the smaller drop is actually a bigger percentage drop (15.5 percent from last year) - compared to a 13.5 percent decline for Chinese imports. Both countries appear to be hurting.

Chinese furniture exports to the U.S. fell in miscellaneous wood furniture (down 19 percent), wood seats (down 21 percent), and upholstered wood chairs (down 13 percent). China's overall economy grew just 6 percent in the third quarter - its slowest pace on record.

Other countries are seeing increased demand. Most notable of those is Vietnam, whose furniture shipments have increased 51 percent since 2018.

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