By Peter J. Cazamias, SBA Official
August 21, 2018

Recently the United States Government announced several new tariff increases.  The U.S. Department of Commerce implemented tariffs on steel and aluminum imports for national security reasons.  Separately, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced tariffs to combat unfair trade practices on certain Chinese goods.  Additional tariffs on a larger list of goods from China are expected in the future.

Small businesses should become familiar with what imported products are impacted to make informed business decisions as tariffs could increase the total cost of certain imported goods.

What are tariffs?

Tariffs are a taxes, levies, or duties on a particular category of imports. These fees are charged as a percentage of the price of an imported good paid for by a U.S. buyer. These charges are collected by U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents at all U.S. ports of entry.

How can I obtain a tariff waiver on my foreign purchases?

U.S. businesses may request that individual imported products be excluded from the new tariff charges; and U.S. producers may also comment on why certain exclusions should be denied. The Department of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have separate application procedures based on the actions taken by their organizations.  Decisions are case by case and require separate individual applications for each item to be imported.

Where can I find out more information?

SBA directs small businesses to visit the following U.S. Government resources for more information, to receive answers to frequently asked questions, and to request a tariff exclusion on imported products:

  • Information on Goods from China with New Additional Tariffs:
  • Information on a Second Tranche of Goods from China with Additional Tariffs of 25%:
  • A List of Goods from China Under Consideration for Further Tariff Actions:
  • Information on Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum Global Imports:
    • The United States has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended.
    • Information on the Department of Commerce exclusion application and objection process can be found on the Bureau of Industry and Security websites at  https://www.bis.doc.gov/232-steel and https://www.bis.doc.gov/232-aluminum.
    • Questions regarding steel exclusion requests can be addressed to the U.S. Department of Commerce at 202-482-5642 or Steel232@bis.doc.gov (link sends e-mail).
    • Questions regarding aluminum exclusions requests can be directed to 202-482-4757 or Aluminum232@bis.doc.gov (link sends e-mail).
    • Information on foreign government response and goods impacted can be found at https://www.trade.gov/mas/ian/tradedisputes-enforcement/retaliations/tg_ian_002094.asp
  • Some impacted goods may also be subject to anti-dumping (AD) or countervailing duties (CVD) duties for unfair trade actions involving selling at less than fair value and prohibited government support. Small businesses importing goods with additional duties related to an AD/CVD investigation should be aware that the estimated AD/CVD duties paid during an investigation can increase significantly and a bill may follow after the goods clear U.S. Customs.  Small businesses may direct questions on specific tariff lines and AD/CVD duties to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Enforcement & Compliance Communications at 202-482-0063.

Small business traders may also wish to explore the following SBA and interagency partner programs on trade:

SBA’s Office of International Trade believes there is no wrong door for U.S. small business traders.  Contact us today at international@sba.gov (link sends e-mail) or 855-722-4877.