C.H. Robinson lays down groundwork for shippers to gain Section 301 tariff relief

Minneapolis, Minn.-based global logistics services provider and freight forwarder C.H. Robinson said last week it is taking steps to help its U.S.-based customers getting access to refunds—more than $1 billion—through Section 301 tariff exclusions.

The company explained that most of these refund opportunities have been updated on an ongoing basis, going back to 2018, driven by the U.S.-China trade war, and they are set to expire on December 31.

Company officials said that since Section 301 tariffs were initially implemented, the company has subsequently identified potential customer savings of around $980 million, adding that 96%, of these tariffs, are product-specific and necessitate what it said is a more complex and time-consuming qualification analysis. What’s more, they added the company has worked with hundreds of U.S.-based importers to navigate the complexity of these tariffs and exclusions, while also offering duty recovery and compliance consulting services.

When asked what have been the main roadblocks related to shippers being able to collect these tariff-related refunds, Mike Short, President of Global Forwarding at C.H. Robinson told LM that applying for tariff refunds via Section 301 exclusions is a very complex process for importers that are handling it for the first time. 

“With two-thirds of Chinese imported goods subject to the tariffs, businesses both large and small may be leaving millions on the table if they don’t take action within the timeline allowed for applying for refunds,” he said.  “If they are doing it on their own, a U.S. importer would first need to see if their Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes qualify for any one of the specific 301 exclusions and then go through the time-consuming act of comparing their specific products against the product-specific exclusions. With our expertise, we are able to shave off critical time in a complex and lengthy refund recovery process so that companies can focus on maximizing operations while still accessing the savings they qualify for.”

Trade & Tariff Insights: In conjunction with these tariff refund-related findings, C.H. Robinson said it has rolled out a new offering, entitled Trade & Tariff Insights., which it described as a “digital one-stop-shop for ongoing updates and insights on the latest in trade issues.”   

Short said that this offering has been in the works for a few months.

“We can all agree that the U.S.-China trade war adds another layer of complexity to an already challenging year for the global transportation market,” he said. “As we worked with business of all sizes, we saw that they were in need of a digital one-stop-shop for ongoing updates and insights on the latest trade and tariff issues. The Trade and Tarif Insights hub acts like your very own global trade concierge service with weekly updates on the changing global trade marketplace. Shippers will also have access to custom insights and commentary from our leading global trade experts.”

Tariff Verticals: In terms of what specific sector verticals are seeing the biggest benefits of this offering, Short explained that 301 tariffs are extremely broad, covering industries from food and beverage, industrial supplies, transport equipment, consumption goods, fuels and lubricants and more.  

We are not seeing a correlation between industry and refund opportunity, so much is dependent on the specific commodities and volumes that shippers are importing from China,” he said.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman