WASHINGTON — The United States will temporarily extend tariff exemptions for some medical products from China, while it seeks public comment on whether such relief should continue, the US Trade Representative said Thursday.
These exclusions cover 81 medical-care products, and the exemptions stem from the US battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current exclusions were originally scheduled to expire on February 28 and will now last through to mid-May, said the USTR in a statement.
"USTR is requesting public comments on whether to extend particular exclusions for COVID-related products for up to 6 months," the statement added.
The temporary extension until May allows for consideration of these public comments.
Such exemptions were first announced in December 2020, and have been extended several times in recent years.
Items on the list include pump bottles for hand sanitizer, plastic containers for sanitizing wipes, blood pressure monitors, fingertip pulse oximeters, MRI machines and X-ray tables.
As inflation surged in the past year, President Joe Biden has been under pressure to end the so-called Section 301 tariffs.
These came as trade tensions between the United States and China escalated when then-president Donald Trump imposed tariffs on $350 billion worth of Chinese goods, alleging unfair trade practices along with theft of US technology and intellectual property.
Washington and Beijing signed a so-called phase one trade agreement in January 2020, under which China pledged to boost its purchases of American products and services by at least $200 billion over 2020 and 2021, although the target was not met amid the pandemic.