China USA trade and tariffs war, © Alexlmx
© Alexlmx


– U.S. companies importing goods from China could be missing out on a large pool of tariff refunds, which C.H. Robinson estimates add up to about $980 million for its customers alone, the transportation firm announced this week.

– The clock is winding down on shippers’ ability to get refunds on the Section 301 tariffs, with a Dec. 31 exclusion deadline approaching.

– Ben Bidwell, the director of U.S. customs for C.H. Robinson, said the process used by the United States Trade Representative for issuing exclusions has made it challenging for companies to track the ones for which they’re eligible.

Dive Insight:

Many companies importing goods into the U.S. have fought to figure out ways to reduce tariff costs by leveraging foreign trade zones or challenging the legality of the tariffs. Last month, about 3,500 companies filed suit seeking tariff refunds, arguing that the List 3 tariffs were unlawfully imposed.

The refunds highlighted by C.H. Robinson are unrelated to this lawsuit, and are based on existing exclusions that companies aren’t taking advantage of given the complicated process the government has provided, Bidwell said.

The tariff exclusions from the USTR were issued in two different ways. Some are known as “absolute exclusions,” under which anything that entered the U.S. with that tariff number is excluded from duties.

“That was a slam dunk for customers,” Bidwell said, noting that C.H. Robinson would send customers their absolute exclusions, and the process for getting the refund was pretty easy from that point. But most of the time it was a bit more complicated.

“The bulk of the exclusions that were issued, however, were product specific,” he said.

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