Though America’s trade relationship with China is still being reviewed by the Biden Administration, companies, including publishers, who have been paying higher tariffs on imports from that country received some good news last week in a decision issued by the U.S. Court of International Trade.
Last September, a lawsuit by HMTX, a global manufacturer, was filed with the court, charging that the U.S. Trade Representative did not have the authority to engage in a trade war with China by “whatever means it chooses.” The lawsuit argued that the USTR investigation into China’s unfair trade practices, which is centered around forced technology transfers by American companies to Chinese counterparts, does not give the government the authority to impose higher tariffs on products that were not part of the investigation. The suit was filed after the Trump Administration levied higher tariffs on a range of products manufactured in China, including most books.
In a recent ruling on a motion filed in connection with the case, the court said that if the plaintiffs win the lawsuit, companies that filed the necessary claims would be entitled to receive a refund on any fees paid to meet the requirements of the new tariffs. For publishers, the refund could amount to millions of dollars.
To help ensure that its publisher members were eligible to receive the refunds, the Association of American Publishers supported a member suit filed this February. While the case proceeds, companies, including publishers, must continue to pay the higher tariffs, which they would see returned only if the plaintiffs win. Publishers can only receive a refund if they have filed the necessary claims. (The deadline for filing a claim is August 20.)
More than 3,700 challenges to the USTR’s investigation were filed, and all those claims have been consolidated into a master case, with HMTX designated the lead plaintiff. A resolution to the lawsuit is seen as still months away. Lui Simpson, senior v-p of global policy at the AAP, said the organization continues to monitor the issue to ensure that its publishers receive a refund should the case challenging the tariffs be successful.