The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is initiating an investigation that addresses two important issues with respect to Vietnam. This investigation has been initiated at the direction of President Donald J. Trump. These investigations may result in tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions on imports from Vietnam.

In a press release, USTR stated that they will investigate Vietnam’s “acts, policies, and practices related to the import and use of timber that is illegally harvested or traded”. In addition to this, USTR will also investigate Vietnam’s “acts, policies, and practices that may contribute to the undervaluation of its currency and the resultant harm caused to U.S. commerce.”

This investigation will be conducted under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act. USTR will consult with the Department of Treasury on issues related to currency valuation and exchange rate policies.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer said, “Using illegal timber in wood products exported to the U.S. market harms the environment and is unfair to U.S. workers and businesses who follow the rules by using legally harvested timber. In addition, unfair currency practices can harm U.S. workers and businesses that compete with Vietnamese products that may be artificially lower-priced because of currency undervaluation.  We will carefully review the results of the investigation and determine what, if any, actions it may be appropriate to take.”

USTR published two separate Federal Register notices (Related to the Import and Use of Illegal Timber, Related to Currency Valuation) which specify details of their investigation. These notices also give instructions on how members of the public can contribute their thoughts through written submissions.

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