AdvaMed is asking the Trump administration's U.S. Trade Representative to lift tariffs on Chinese imports of more than 80 types of medical products it calls critical to the response against COVID-19.
In a letter shared Wednesday, AdvaMed listed protective garments, imaging components and devices used in ventilators among the types of products it wants USTR to exclude from tariffs on Chinese imports.
AdvaMed is pushing USTR to indefinitely lift the tariffs, although it proposed re-imposing the fees one year after the official end of the pandemic as a compromise.
The spread of the coronavirus around the world has been punctuated by periodic changes to the tariffs the U.S. imposes on medical devices imported from China. In March, for example, USTR exempted products including two types of medical gloves from tariffs. Shortly after doing so, USTR put out a call for comments on further changes it should make in response to COVID-19.
Medtech trade group AdvaMed responded this week with a letter listing medical devices and components that its members argue are “critical for health care providers and patients in the diagnosis, containment and treatment of the pandemic.”
The list includes products such as gloves and gowns that are among the most-oft cited devices in discussions of supply constraints associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. AdvaMed also wants to see USTR lift tariffs on CT scanners used to image COVID-19 patients and components such as valves and printed circuit boards used in the ventilators and monitors that are central to their care.
Other medical devices on the list are less directly related to the response to COVID-19. For example, AdvaMed is pushing USTR to exclude dialysis machines and associated parts and accessories from the tariffs, arguing that doing so will enable “dialysis patients to avoid in-center dialysis and be treated in their home,” thereby freeing immuno-compromised people from the need to visit hospitals already strapping with COVID-19 patients.
Ideally, AdvaMed wants USTR to indefinitely exclude the products from tariffs. If USTR knocks back that request, the trade group hopes it will retain the revised tariff schedule for at least one year after the World Health Organization declares the pandemic over. AdvaMed framed its request for ongoing exclusions as a way to ensure medical equipment and consumables are available in the U.S. after the pandemic.
“When foreign suppliers have a choice of where to ship, the cost of sending such products to U.S. patients should be competitive with other countries that do not impose Section 301 tariffs. Inventories will need time to rebuild after COVID-19 has ended,” AdvaMed wrote.
It is unclear when USTR will make a decision on whether to exempt the devices from tariffs. USTR’s call for comments on products to exclude is open until late June and may be extended beyond that. However, USTR has indicated it will review comments while the window for feedback is still open, telling interested parties to “submit comments as promptly as possible” to “facilitate timely consideration of possible modifications.” USTR had received more than 460 public comments as of April 30.