News story

Chinese importers look forward to tariff termination

Wednesday, 20 November 2019 ( #950 ) - Washington, DC, United States
A number of US importers of Chinese-made forklifts are understood to be benefiting from the removal of Section 301 tariffs, as flagged by Forkliftaction News in September.

Among the beneficiaries is LiuGong which, according to North America forklift division president Ken Biediger, "led a group of six global manufacturers in jointly applying for the exception of Class 1-5 forklifts".

The September move overturned import tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on 6 July 2018.

Pallet trucks and forklifts were among the products removed from the initial tariff list. The exclusions also include a range of engine and motor components and other parts used by American forklift manufacturers and cited for recent increases in forklift prices in the US.

The process for winding back the tariffs is not clear, and while Biediger confirms that the exception "is now in place ... (and) the tariff surcharge will be eliminated soon", some observers believe there may even be scope for importers to claim a refund on tariffs already paid.

Regardless of the process, importers are welcoming the removal which was damaging to their business.

"The biggest impact is improving our profitability as LiuGong bore the brunt of the tariff and only passed a small percentage onto the market in the form of a tariff surcharge," Biediger explains.

For Hangcha, one of China's biggest forklift manufacturers, the United States is a relatively small market, according to spokeswoman Tina Lou. "At present, the European market accounts for the main part of Hangcha's export sales, and the sales volume of American products accounts for about 0.5% of the total sales volume of the company. Therefore, the US-China trade dispute has little impact on our company."

However, Lou notes that the US is the second-largest market in the world and certainly features in Hangcha's long-term planning.

For now, Hangcha plans to reduce its prices in the US "step by step, according to market conditions".

In its recent financial report, Hyster Yale noted a "44% increase in Lift Truck operating profit, primarily from tariff recoveries in the Americas". Forkliftaction News is attempting to find out more about those recoveries - and if other American manufacturers have experienced similar gains.

We have also approached the Industrial Truck Association, which is understood to have lobbied the US government to overturn the tariffs, for comment, but the group has declined our requests.

Meanwhile, US media reports indicate that the Office of the United States Trade Representative faces a massive backlog of requests from companies seeking a reprieve from the tariffs as Washington published a fourth list of products considered for review.

More than 3,000 companies have filed about 44,000 requests for exclusions from the first three rounds and a majority of these requests, about 28,000, were under review as of November 1. About 4,900 requests have been granted, while about 10,970 have been denied.
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