Trump’s Tariffs On China Could Cost The United States In The Fight Against Coronavirus Outbreak

Trump’s Tariffs On China Could Cost The United States In The Fight Against Coronavirus Outbreak

Since 2018 the US and China have been embroiled in an escalating tariff battle. Tariffs on critical medical supplies from China were levied through several rounds including medical protective gear, personal protective equipment (PPE), CT systems and disposable medical headwear. 

The rapidly spreading coronavirus disease has led to cases rising at a rapid pace worldwide including the United States, which is now the country with the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths. According to the latest statistics from Johns Hopkins University, there are currently over 555,000 recorded cases, and over 22,000 deaths in the United States.

United States tariffs on imported medical supplies, especially from China, have contributed to the fight against coronavirus outbreak in United States. 

Compared to other nations with a "more flexible" approach to importing EPPs, the imposition of tariffs has "further weakened United States preparedness and response to the outbreak," Yanzhong Huang, senior global health fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told CNBC. 

The US will be in "better shape in this bidding game" without tariffs, with so many countries struggling to import essential medicinal goods from China, he said.

States across the United States have announced that the number of intensive care unit beds is running out, while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has warned that respirators could run out as soon as the hospital's resources are stretched out. 

As the epidemic escalating in major cities and states, health care personnel were still searching for protective gear and dealing with a lack of medical supplies as the number of cases increased.

Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) cautioned in an earlier study that the trade war between President Donald Trump and China could threaten to "cripple" the United States battle against the coronavirus pandemic. 

Since March 13, when the study was released, the think tank found that $3.3 billion in imports of essential health-care goods still faced tariffs of 7.5 per cent, while $1.1 billion in imports that could theoretically treat Covid-19 were subject to tariffs in 25 per cent — even after the Trump administration partially reduced and suspended those tariffs.

“The administration’s tariffs on Chinese medical products may contribute to shortages and higher costs of vital equipment at a time of nationwide health crisis,” Chad Bown.

He said the trade policies of Trump pressured Beijing to export more of its medicinal goods to other nations, rather than to the United States. Many of these items provide protective clothing to track patients for physicians and nurses, and high-tech devices.

According to PIIE data, around $100 billion in Chinese intermediate inputs still face tariffs of 25 per cent, rising parts and components prices for United States producers of medical goods. 

The Wall Street Journal also claimed that General Motors was pursuing tariff relief on some types of ventilator parts from China that faced tariffs of 25 percent to "ease the pressure" of supplying ventilators that would help Washington's response to Covid-19.