China Exempts Lubes from Tariffs

Chinas Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council yesterday announced a trial program to exclude 16 types of U.S. products - including grease and certain types of lubricants, base oils and surfactants - from retaliatory tariffs.

The move was viewed as a good-will gesture as Beijing and Washington scheduled a new round of talks aimed at settling their trade war.

Companies with products that qualify for the exclusion must apply for it. The Customs Tariff Commission of Chinas State Council will review applications and decide which ones to approve.

The exclusion is scheduled to last for one year beginning Sept. 17 and applies to two lists of products published by the council. Products on List 1 are eligible for refunds on tariffs already imposed, although companies must submit refund applications within six months of the date of publication of the exclusion list. List 1 includes lubricating oils, greases, nonionic organic surfactants, and lubricants containing no petroleum or oils from bituminous minerals.

Products on List 2 are not eligible for refunds. That list includes base oils with viscosity index of at least 80.

The commission said it plans to publish additional lists of excluded products in due course.

In April 2018, China announced plans for 25 percent hikes on tariffs for lubricants and for lubricant additives not containing petroleum or extracted from bituminous minerals, in response to a U.S. announcement of tariffs on imports from China.

In July 2018 each country implemented 25 percent tariffs applying to hundreds of products, including lubricants and lubricant additives. The U.S. levies apply to an estimated $50 billion per year of imports from China, while Chinas apply to $30 billion in U.S. goods. The U.S. had already announced plans to impose 10 percent tariffs later in 2018 on another $200 billion in Chinese goods.