On May 4, 2020, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) published a report on the imports and tariffs of COVID-19 related products. The ITC began a fact finding investigation on the importation of goods to combat COVID-19 following an April 7th letter sent by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means and the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. The report is meant to serve as a data source for Congress to determine which key products still face high general duties or additional Section 301 duties. After reviewing the report, House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal said that the U.S. should lift tariffs on all medical goods being used to combat the coronavirus pandemic for 90 days.
The letter specifically requested the ITC provide the following information:
“(1) the 10-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS) statistical reporting number for each article;
(2) its legal description;
(3) its general duty rate;
(4) any special or additional rates of duty imposed on the article, the dates on which the rates were imposed, and the authorities under which they were imposed;
(5) whether any such duties have been suspended and, if so, the date of suspension, as well as how long the suspension is scheduled to last;
(6) the total rate of duty imposed on the article, including any special or additional rate of duty; and
(7) the major countries of origin for the article, and the value of imports for the article from each country for the years 2017–19. The Committees also requested that the Commission provide a plain-language description or product examples for each good. As requested, the Commission will post any relevant updated data runs on its website through June 30, 2020.”
To conduct this investigation, the ITC used the World Customs Organization (WCO) “HS Classification Reference List,” developed in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO), and added a list of pharmaceutical products taken from the World Trade Organization (WTO) “Trade in Medical Goods in the Context of Tackling COVID-19.” The report breaks down all COVID-19 related goods into the following eight categories:
- COVID-19 test kits/testing instruments: refers to the chemical reagents and instruments used in diagnostic testing for COVID-19.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE): refers to protective materials that are worn. These goods are a subset of medical consumables and hospital supplies.
- Disinfectants and sterilization products: refers to the various chemically based sanitizing agents.
- Oxygen therapy equipment and pulse oximeters: refers to devices that provide respiratory support to distressed patients.
- Medical imaging, diagnostic, and other equipment: refers to devices that can facilitate the diagnosis of various medical conditions and/or assist in the administration of treatment.
- Non-PPE medical consumables and hospital supplies: refers to a broad spectrum of basic medical supplies including syringes, needles, catheters, and adhesives that are used in healthcare facilities. Unlike PPE, these types of consumables are not worn.
- Medicines (pharmaceuticals): refers to medications used to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease.
- Other: a category that includes transportation for patients, mobile clinics, and furniture used in a healthcare setting.
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