The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) submitted comments on September 6 to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to request that a proposed 25 percent duty on Chinese imports be revised to remove from this new tariff burden numerous ingredients used in dietary supplements and other herbal products manufactured and marketed in the United States.
USTR has now issued three separate trade actions that would impose tariffs on many Chinese imports in response to its investigation of certain of China’s trade practices. It was only the third action, however, issued on July 17 and revised on August 7, that identified materials of interest to AHPA’s members and the supplement industry.
For example, USTR proposed in this most recent action to impose a 25 percent duty on a number of botanicals, including ginseng roots; dried garlic and onions and various other spices, such as fennel, marjoram, parsley, savory and tarragon; numerous species of mushrooms; a number of dried fruits and vegetables, including citrus peel, tomatoes, apples, mangosteens, barberries and other berries, arrowroot and carrots; etc. Non-herbal ingredients used in supplement products and proposed for the 25 percent duty include whey protein concentrates; fish oils; numerous forms of calcium and potassium; and miscellaneous packaging components.
AHPA’s comments pointed out that USTR has, throughout the process of developing these trade actions, asserted that the specific goods listed for imposition of new tariffs had been identified through a process that took into account likely impacts on U.S. consumers and disruptions to the U.S. economy or disproportionate economic harm to U.S. interests, including small or medium-sized businesses. AHPA noted in its comments that attention to these factors is consistent with the Congressional intent of the Trade Act of 1972, which serves as the statutory basis for these trade actions.
"In AHPA’s view, however, this most recent trade action is likely to cause economic harm to U.S. supplement and herbal companies," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "Almost all of these companies are small businesses, though in the aggregate they provide several hundred thousand American jobs and contribute billions of dollars to U.S. wages, taxes and the overall economy. The risks to the trade and to American consumers, who could face increased costs and fewer choices, are significant, and AHPA is hopeful that USTR will give serious consideration to our comments.”