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USITC’s COVID-19 Response Product Database Released; Democrats Call for Duty Suspension

Posted May 06, 2020

The U.S. International Trade Commission earlier this week released the results of its recent investigation to identify imported products needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical Workers with American Flag and USITC Seal

Key Findings

The report (click here to download in XLSX format) identifies 112 U.S. Harmonized Tariff System numbers covering a “mix of COVID-19 related” goods, including test kits/instruments; disinfectants and sterilization products; pulse oximeters and equipment for medical imaging, diagnostics and oxygen therapy; medicines/pharmaceuticals; non-PPE medical consumables and hospital supplies; and personal protective equipment.

The Commission determined that of the 112 identified HTS numbers, products in 76 of the numbers are imported duty-free, with 36 subject to some form of a general duty rate.  

Significantly, roughly half of the HTS numbers are subject to punitive duty rates in the ongoing US-China trade war, with 39 headings subject to additional duties at 25% and 16 at the 7.5% rate, when the goods are imported from China.

Purpose & Scope of the Investigation

As reported last month here, the investigation, COVID-19 Related Goods: U.S. Imports and Tariffs, was requested by the House of Representatives’ Ways and Mean Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

Lawmakers called for the independent panel to prepare a report that will “assist the Committees and USTR in proposing or taking appropriate and responsive actions.”

While the Commission held no hearings in connection with the investigation, comments submitted to the panel generally pushed for a broad interpretation of what could be considered useful in fighting the pandemic, rather than a narrow focus on personal protective equipment and other medical goods. 

Political Reaction

Responding to the report, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) said the U.S. needs “to improve the resilience of our critical supply chains and re-establish our industrial manufacturing base” in order to avoid a repeat of the shoftfalls that have been experienced during the current pandemic. Calling it a “wake up call,” Neal said the nation should “be prepared for a strategic restructuring of our medical supply chains.”  

In the near-term, Neal called for a 90-day suspension of all tariffs on products identified by the USITC and relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic response. He noted that such tariff suspensions “must be subject to a straightforward and easily administrable process for affected stakeholders to object.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) praised the Commission’s “excellent work” centralizing the relevant trade-related information and said lawmakers would “continue to study the impact of tariffs and trade policy generally on the American and global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Need More Information?

If you have any questions about any customs or other regulatory issues related to the coronavirus pandemic and how they might impact your business, don’t hesitate to contact one of our trade experts today. Also, be sure to get the latest trade-related developments in response to the pandemic by visiting our COVID-19 Updates page.

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