June 18, 2019
Publishing Industry Asks U.S. Trade Representative to Remove Books from China Tariff List
Washington, DC; June 18, 2019 – The Association of American Publishers filed comments today with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative urging that the Administration exclude printed books from the scope of its impending tariff hike of 25% on products coming from China. The Administration recently proposed the penalty as part of its ongoing Section 301 investigation into China’s practices relevant to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation.
“The U.S. publishing industry invests in literature, children’s books, educational materials, religious and historical texts, Bibles, scientific expression, and numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction that support and celebrate American voices but are printed in China,” said Maria A. Pallante, AAP President and CEO. “There are no viable alternatives either inside or outside of the United States at this time, meaning that the impact of the tariffs—if applied to books—would be swift and devastating to both American publishers and the important works they disseminate.”
Among other points, AAP notes that a tariff that affects book production is unlikely to have a major punitive impact on China because it is not a new or cutting-edge technology for the Chinese government and its not part of China’s “Made in China 2025” plan.
“Because printing is not a priority for the Chinese government, tariffs on books are not likely to affect in any way the Chinese government policies that are the target of the Section 301 action,” said Lui Simpson, VP, Global Policy at AAP. “Rather, the adversity would fall upon American publishers, its supply chain, and partner industries, including thousands of small and medium-sized companies. Many would be forced to lay off skilled American workers if they are not forced out of business altogether.”
Moreover, AAP believes that imposing tariffs on printed books is contrary to longstanding U.S. policy of exempting from tariffs the importation of educational, scientific, and cultural materials. Books foster the free exchange of knowledge and information, reflecting a core American value enshrined in our Constitution and key to the enjoyment of many of our basic rights.
For this reason, Congress has explicitly protected books, including through the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. In keeping with Congressional intent, the Act gives the president broad powers to declare a national emergency and regulate or prohibit commerce with hostile countries. Nevertheless, even in this extreme circumstance, the law fully exempts information and informational materials from all import restrictions.
AAP’s full comments are available for download here.
AAP | The Association of American Publishers represents the leading book, journal, and education publishers in the United States on matters of law and policy, advocating for outcomes that incentivize the publication of creative expression, professional content, and learning solutions. As essential participants in local markets and the global economy, our members invest in and inspire the exchange of ideas, transforming the world we live in one word at a time.