USTR Considers Removal of Tariffs on Certain Chinese Imports Needed for COVID-19 Response

Alerts / March 23, 2020

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) issued a notice on March 20 seeking comments on proposed modification to remove tariffs imposed under Section 301 on certain Chinese-origin imports that could support the United States’ response to COVID-19. This follows a recent emergency exclusion for personal protective equipment products, including medical masks, examination gloves, antiseptic wipes, and other medical care and protective items. In a press release accompanying the notice, USTR stated that the move is part of “an effort to keep current on developments in our national fight against the coronavirus pandemic.”

USTR emphasized that “the United States has prioritized health considerations” throughout the implementation of Section 301 tariffs by working to ensure tariffs are not imposed on “certain critical products such as ventilators, oxygen masks, and nubilators” and granting exclusions for other health-related products.

USTR seeks comment on whether a particular product is “needed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.” Commenters must specifically identify the particular product of concern and explain explicitly how the product relates to responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Notably, this process does not replace the current ongoing exclusion process, though it does provide a route to relief for critical medical products that may not have been excluded under prior processes. Comments may be submitted for products subject to a pending or previously denied exclusion request.

Anyone—members of the public, businesses, and government agencies—may submit comments through Docket USTR-2020-0014, established for this purpose. Comments are limited to those regarding products relevant to the medical response to COVID-19. USTR will accept comments until at least June 25 and may extend the comment window as appropriate. There is no indication of whether these exclusions will be made in advance of the comment close period or perhaps on a rolling basis to address immediate needs, so interested parties are encouraged to submit comments as soon as possible to facilitate prompt consideration.

For further information, contact Mike Snarr at or 202.861.1710, Casey Weaver at or 713.276.1614, or any member of BakerHostetler’s International Trade and National Security team.

Authorship Credit: Casey Weaver and Mike Snarr

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