U.S. trade officials recently exempted more than 100 medical items manufactured in China from import tariffs in an effort to fight the coronavirus outbreak, according to published reports.
Cardinal Health and Medline Industries were among 27 companies with certain products that had their 7.5% tariffs lifted. Exempted products included protective masks, drapes and gowns, hand wipes, medical exam gloves, medicine cups, stethoscopes and shoe covers, according to a list published by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
Medline manufactures its 550,000 different medical supplies globally, including at 22 U.S. factories, according to the Northfield, Ill.-based company.
“While these exclusions are certainly helpful, the section 301 tariffs continue to have a significant impact on healthcare and its costs,” a Medline spokesman told MassDevice in an email. “Just yesterday, 33 other exclusion requests were denied, including surgical drapes and biohazard bags. The exclusions granted will let us further diversify our supply chain while limiting customer impact.”
In a January 31 letter to USTR, medtech trade group AdvaMed requested that several items that would be useful during the coronavirus outbreak be exempted from tariffs. While not everything on a list that trade group AdvaMed asked USTR to exempt during the coronavirus outbreak was exempted, the group was pleased.
“We thank the administration for lifting tariffs from some crucial medical equipment coming to the U.S. from China, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak,” AdvaMed president & CEO Scott Whitaker said in a statement. “This will help lower the cost of importing the face masks, examination gloves, surgical drapes, and gowns essential to combating coronavirus. We look forward to continuing our work with the administration on the importance of expanding this list of medical technologies exempt from tariffs.”
Tariffs on some $34 billion in imports from China went into effect on July 6, 2018, and U.S. medtech makers originally faced about $836 million in tariffs. Other exclusions granted in September 2019 were retroactive to August 23, 2018, when additional tariffs went into effect on about $16 billion in imports from China, and were due to extend for another year.