A bipartisan group of 40 lawmakers has urged US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to remove USD 3 billion worth of medical devices from China from the list of Chinese products which faces additional tariffs proposed by the Trump Administration. A trade spat between the world’s top two economies began last month with Trump imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the US from China, which also retaliated by announcing to impose additional tariffs worth about USD three billion on 128 US products.
The two countries have not yet implemented their tariff increases to reach a negotiated settlement. In a letter to Lighthizer, the lawmakers said we are concerned by the recent announcement to potentially subject almost USD 3 billion worth of medical technology products from China to the Section 301 tariffs. Led by Congressmen Erik Paulsen and Scott Peters, the lawmakers said the proposed tariffs will harm America’s thriving medical device industry, as such a move could also invite retaliation from the Chinese government.
“With its growing economy and middle class, rapidly aging population, and increased demand for medical technology, China will continue to be an attractive market for US manufacturers. “With that in mind, we are concerned that inclusion of medical devices on any final Section 301 tariff list could lead to retaliation that would jeopardize these opportunities,” the lawmakers said in the letter dated May 15. They warned that the Chinese government also impose tariffs on US medical technology products, or bring in non-tariff barriers such as new regulatory and payment hurdles that could delay or prevent timely market access.
“These actions would only benefit China’s domestic manufacturers at the expense of US manufacturers,” the letter said. Requesting Lighthizer that all medical technology products be removed from the Section 301 tariff list, the Congressmen wrote that not doing so would hurt US manufacturing as the majority of imports from China are inputs to manufacture finished medical technology products in America. It would also impact their ability to compete globally, and potentially increase health-care costs, which would limit patient access to life-saving technology, they said.
“As you know, the US medical technology industry is an American success story. This US industry has been historically competitive on a global level and is one of the few with a consistent trade surplus,” the Congressmen wrote. The Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 provides the US government with the authority to respond to unfair, unreasonable, or discriminatory trade practices and gives the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) the ability to take action to compel another country to eliminate the offending act, policy, or practice, with the president’s approval.