02.28.20

Gardner Calls for Tariff Removal on Medical Supplies Critical to the Coronavirus Response

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, wrote to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Lighthizer requesting USTR remove Section 301 import tariffs on medical products that are necessary for the U.S. to prepare for the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“The World Health Organization and the United States have respectively declared this outbreak a global and domestic public health emergency, and public health officials have warned of a growing threat to American citizens,” said Senator Gardner. “To ensure that the United States is prepared to contain and combat the spread of this outbreak, it is crucial that there is a robust supply of critical medical products like gloves, thermometers, protective goggles and clothing, and medical caps. Each of these items is currently subject to tariffs under USTR’s Section 301 proceedings through Lists 2, 3, or 4A and the normal exemption process deadline for each of them has passed. As both the medical supply chain concerns and public health demands continue to grow, it is critically important that USTR eliminate these Section 301 tariffs.”

Full text of the letter is available here and below: 

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer, 

I am writing to request that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) remove Section 301 import tariffs on medical products that are necessary for U.S. preparedness efforts regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The World Health Organization and the United States have respectively declared this outbreak a global and domestic public health emergency, and public health officials have warned of a growing threat to American citizens.  

To ensure that the United States is prepared to contain and combat the spread of this outbreak, it is crucial that there is a robust supply of critical medical products like gloves, thermometers, protective goggles and clothing, and medical caps. Each of these items is currently subject to tariffs under USTR’s Section 301 proceedings through Lists 2, 3, or 4A and the normal exemption process deadline for each of them has passed. Additionally, on February 25, Secretary Azar announced the United States does not possess a sufficient stockpile of certain medical supplies as COVID-19 continues to spread. 

As both the medical supply chain concerns and public health demands continue to grow, it is critically important that USTR eliminate these Section 301 tariffs. I wrote a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary and Chairman of the President’s Taskforce on Novel Coronavirus, Alex Azar, on January 31, 2020 outlining concerns with the medical supply chain. In that letter, I noted that both the outbreak itself and containment measures, like the unprecedented quarantine in China, could serve as considerable threats to the medical supply chain, especially at a time of increased demand. 

We must be prepared for increased medical supply demand in the United States, and to that end, I request that USTR eliminate these harmful tariffs on certain medical products and remove barriers to importation. 

Products of particular concern include:

Product

Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code 

Nitrile gloves

4015.19.05

Sterile gloves

4015.19.05

Non-contact infrared thermometer

9025.19.80

Protective goggles

9004.90.00

Medical protective clothing 

6307.90.60;

6307.90.68;

6307.90.72

Disposable medical cap 

6505.00.01;

6505.00.80;

6505.00.90 


I request immediate elimination of these Section 301 tariffs and look forward to serving as a collaborative partner in USTR’s efforts to address the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.