Timeline of Trade Policy in the Biden Administration (2021–present)

Note: This timeline intends to provide a complete list of trade actions taken by the Biden administration since day one (January 20, 2021) in the categories of:

 Policy document: includes all proclamations, announcements, decisions, and official reports released by the White House and government agencies under the executive branch (such as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative).

Policy trend: important public speeches by senior trade officials that indicate critical trends in US trade policy

Trade remedy measures: includes all policy actions taken under the U.S. trade remedy laws, such as anti-dumping, countervailing duty, safeguard measures, and Section 301 investigation. 

Trade agreement: includes the negotiation, modification, and termination of any U.S. free trade agreement and trade preference programs.

Textiles and Apparel: policy issues directly related to the textile and apparel sector

WTO: includes the using of any exciting WTO mechanisms and any WTO-related trade actions.

Suggested Citation: Lu, Sheng. (2021). Timeline of trade policy in the Biden administration. Retrieved from https://shenglufashion.com/timeline-of-trade-policy-in-the-biden-administration/

Disclaimer: All posts on this site are for FASH455 educational and academic research purposes only, and they are nonpolitical and nonpartisan. No blog post intends to either favor or oppose any particular political party nor shall be interpreted that way. Please email me (shenglu@udel.edu) with any suggestions and questions.

(updated: July 2021)

20 July 2021: The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced the intention of the U.S. to join the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation (DR JSI). USTR says the initiative is an opportunity to improve the transparency and fairness of processes for obtaining overseas licenses for U.S. professionals to provide services, such as engineers, architects, and environmental consultants. It also can help firms in retailing, express delivery and financial services. [WTO]

19 July 2021: U.S. Department of Treasury said in a statement that it had reached an agreement with the State Bank of Vietnam regarding the Treasury’s concerns about Vietnam’s currency practices. According to a separate USTR statement, the section 301 tariff seems to be on hold, but the case is not closed yet. [Trade remedy measures]

16 July 2021: the U.S. Department of State, along with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issued a business advisory to caution U.S. businesses about emerging risks to their operations and activities in Hong Kong. Many of these risks stem from the implementation of the Law of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, also known as the National Security Law (NSL), and other recent legislative changes. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures]

16 July 2021: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released its Enforcement Statistics Fiscal Year 2021. In fiscal year 2021 (as of June 2021), CBP has detained 674 shipments by enforcing the withhold release orders (WROs), up 108% from 2020. The total Value detained cargo related to WROs reached $275 million, up 395% from FY 2020. [Trade remedy measures]

14 July 2021: The Senate approved the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (S. 65) by voice vote. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures]

13 July 2021: The U.S. Department of State, alongside the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Department of Labor issued an updated Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory to highlight the heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang, given the entities complicit in forced labor and other human rights abuses there and throughout China. This updates the original Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory issued by U.S. government agencies on July 1, 2020. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures] [Textiles and apparel]

8 July 20201: The United States and Mexico today announced a course of remediation which seeks to provide the workers of the General Motors facility in Silao, Mexico with the ability to vote on whether to approve their collective bargaining agreement in free and democratic conditions, and to remediate the denial of the right of free association and collective bargaining to workers at the facility.  This first course of remediation under United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s novel Rapid Response Labor Mechanism. The course of remediation’s end date is September 20, 2021. [Policy document] [Trade agreement] [Trade remedy measures]

1 July 2021: The new sewing thread rules under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) enters into force. Starting from today, sewing thread of headings 5204, 5401 or 5508, or yarn of heading 5402 (used as sewing thread), must be originating from USMCA members for qualifying apparel. [Trade agreement] [Textiles and apparel]

24 June 2021: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a new withhold release order (WRO)  against Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd., a company located in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The WRO instructs personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to immediately begin to detain shipments containing silica-based products made by Hoshine and its subsidiaries. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures]

10 June 2021: US Trade Representative Katherine Tai outlined the Biden administration’s “worker-centered trade policy” in her remarks during an AFL-CIO town hall. Tai mentioned her coal to “improve worker representation in trade policy in the United States and in multilateral organizations.”[Policy trend][WTO]

2 June 2021: The Office of the United States Trade Representative announced the conclusion of the one-year Section 301 investigations of Digital Service Taxes (DSTs) adopted by Austria, India, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.  The final determination in those investigations is to impose additional tariffs on certain goods from these countries, while suspending the tariffs for up to 180 days to provide additional time to complete the ongoing multilateral negotiations on international taxation at the OECD and in the G20 process. The announced Section 301 tariff action covers several textile and apparel products (HS Chapters 50-63) from Italy, Turkey, and UK, including:

  • Austria: no textile and apparel affected
  • India: no textile and apparel affected
  • Italy (25 percent punitive tariffs): all 8-digit codes under 6103, 6104, 6110, 6117,6203,6204
  • Spain: no textile and apparel products covered
  • Turkey (25 percent punitive tariffs): all 8-digit codes under 5701, 5702, 5703, 6302
  • UK (25 percent punitive tariffs): 6104.43.20, 6201.12.20, 6201.92.45, 6202.12.20, 6202.13.40,6202.92.90, 6204.43.40, 6204.44.40, 6204.49.10, 6205.20.20, 6215.10.00

[Policy document] [Trade remedy measures] [WTO] [Textiles and apparel]

28 May 2021: The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against Dalian Ocean Fishing Co., Ltd. based on information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor in the entity’s fishing operations. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures]

5 May 2021: United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai released a statement announcing the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines. The statement says the the United States will “actively participate in text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO)” regarding waving the IPR for COVID vaccines. The current WTO agreement—the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, provides patent protection to technological innovations, including drugs and vaccines. [WTO] 

30 April 2021: The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released its annual Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. This annual report details USTR’s findings of more than 100 trading partners, including the problem of counterfeit apparel products made in China, Turkey, Guatemala, and Peru. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures] [WTO] [Textiles and apparel]

22 April 2021: The Biden administration released its US International Climate Finance Plan. As part of the plan, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) will “identify ways to significantly increase, as per its mandate, its support for environmentally beneficial, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy storage exports from the United States.” [Policy document]

16 April 2021: The Biden administration released its first Report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners (April 2021). The report removed Vietnam and Switzerland from the “currency manipulator”, reversing the Trump administration’s December 2020 decision. China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Ireland, Italy, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Mexico were on the monitoring list. Analysts say the report reveals the Biden administration’s intention to de-escalate trade tensions with US allies. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures]

31 March 2021: The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) released its 2021 National Trade Estimate (NTE) Report. Most trade barriers facing U.S. textile and apparel products in the foreign markets concentrate on high tariffs, rules of origin documentation requirements and licencing requirements. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures] [WTO] [Textiles and apparel]

29 March 2021: The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced to seize disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by Top Glove Corporation Bhd based on a forced labor finding. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures] [Textiles and apparel]

29 March 2021: In response to the military coup, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced to suspend all US engagement with Myanmar under the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA),“until the return of a democratically elected government.” The suspension does NOT mean the US is banning or prohibiting imports from Myanmar. However, should US Congress renew the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which expired in December 2020, Myanmar could be excluded from the benefits. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures]

26 March 2021: The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) proposed to impose an up to 25 percent punitive tariffs on imports from  AustraliaIndiaItalySpainTurkey and the United Kingdom in response to their planned digital service tax (DST) targeting US companies. The proposal covers several textile and apparel products (HS Chapters 50-63) from these six countries, including:

  • Austria: 5209.12.00, 5402.49.91, 5404.19.10, 5404.19.80, 5603.94.10, 5603.94.90
  • India: 5109.90.90, 6212.10.50
  • Italy: all 8-digit codes under 6103, 6104, 6110, 6117,6203,6204,6211,6215
  • Spain: no textile and apparel products covered
  • Turkey: all 8-digit codes under 5702, 5703, 6302 and 6303.91.00
  • UK: 6104.43.20, 6201.12.20, 6201.92.45, 6202.12.20, 6202.13.40,6202.92.90, 6204.43.40, 6204.44.40, 6204.49.10, 6205.20.20, 6215.10.00

Before taking action, USTR will accept public comments until the end of April 2021 and announce its decision by May 2021. Meanwhile, USTR also announced to terminate the DST investigation against Brazil, the Czech Republic, the European Union, and Indonesia. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures] [Textiles and apparel]

18 March 2021: Katherine C. Tai was officially sworn in as the US Trade Representative.

10 March 2021: The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced to extend the exclusion of PPE and medical-care products related to COVID-19 from Section 301 punitive tariffs against Chinese products. The exclusion covers a limited category of textile and apparel products, including 9903.88.64 (cover 5603.12.0090, 5603.14.0090, 5603.92.0090, 5603.93.0090), 9903.88.65 (5210.11.4040, 5210.11.6020, 5504.10.0000, 6210.10.5010, 6210.10.5090). The extension will be effective from 1 April to 30 September 2021. [Policy documents] [Trade remedy measures] [Textiles and apparel]

5 March 2021: The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced to suspend airbus dispute 25% retaliatory tariffs on European Union’s products starting from 5 March 2021 for four months (i.e., around 4 July 2021). USTR says the suspension would “allow time to focus on negotiating a balanced settlement to the disputes, and begin seriously addressing the challenges posed by new entrants to the civil aviation market from non-market economies, such as China.” Meanwhile, the UK had ceased applying retaliatory tariffs in the Boeing dispute from 1 January 2021. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures]

4 March 2021: The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced to suspend airbus dispute retaliatory tariffs on UK’s products starting from 4 March 2021 for four months (i.e., around 4 July 2021). The 25% retaliatory tariffs apply to several apparel exports (such as sweaters) from the UK to the US. USTR says the suspension would “allow time to focus on negotiating a balanced settlement to the disputes, and begin seriously addressing the challenges posed by new entrants to the civil aviation market from non-market economies, such as China.” Meanwhile, the UK had ceased applying retaliatory tariffs in the Boeing dispute from 1 January 2021. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures] [Textiles and apparel]

1 March 2021: The Biden administration released its 2021 President’s Trade Agenda and 2020 Annual Report. Revealing the Biden administration’s worker-centric trade policy, the report calls for “putting workers at the center of trade policy.” Related, the report says the Biden Administration will seek to understand better “the projected impact of proposed trade policies on communities of color and to ensure those impacts are considered before pursuing such policies.” The report further confirms Biden’s emphasis on climate change and says his trade agenda will “include the negotiation and implementation of strong environmental standards that are also critical to a sustainable climate pathway.” Additionally, the report says the Biden administration will “make it a top priority to address the widespread human rights abuses in China” and use the WTO to engage friends and allies. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures] [WTO]

24 February 2021: The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region WRO Frequently Asked Questions web page. The page clarifies the scope of the Withhold Release Orders(WROs) against cotton made in Xinjiang, proof of admissibility, and due diligence. [Policy document] [Trade remedy measures] [Textiles and apparel]

24 February 2021: In an executive order (EO) released today, President Biden announced to conduct a 100-day supply chains review on several key US industries, including semiconductors, batteries, strategic minerals, and pharmaceuticals. The review will also cover certain critical business sectors, such as national defense, public health, information and communication technology, energy, transportation, and agriculture. Further, the EO explicitly asks the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the heads of appropriate agencies, to submit a report identifying risks in the supply chain of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE includes textile products like facial masks, gowns and gloves. More comprehensive reform and supply chain strategies are likely to follow after the supply chain review requested by the EO. [Policy document] [Textiles and apparel]

2 February 2021: The Office of the US Trade Representative Office announced to support Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director General of the WTO. Previously, the Trump administration did not support Ngozi’s candidacy. [WTO]

25 January 2021: President Biden issued an Executive Order on Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers, as part of his “Build Back Better” economic recovery plan. The order created the role of a “director of Made-in-America” within the Office of Management and Budget and increased the threshold and price preferences for domestic goods. [Policy document]