Trump issues tariffs on $50B in Chinese imports, including medical imaging devices

After multiple threats from President Donald Trump, the Office of the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) announced Friday, June 15, 25 percent tariffs on approximately $50 billion worth of Chinese imports—including medical imaging equipment.

While the administration’s original list from April 6 contained 1,333 U.S. tariff lines, today’s announcement applied only to the “first set” of 818 lines covering approximately $34 billion—of the total $50 billion estimate.

“USTR has determined to impose an additional duty of 25 percent on these 818 product lines after having sought and received views from the public and advice from the appropriate trade advisory committees,” the USTR statement read.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin collecting the additional duties on July 6, 2018, according to the statement.

Many of the products contained in the list apply to medical imaging equipment, including electromagnets used for MRI, electrocardiographs, computed tomography apparatus based on the use of x-rays, x-ray tubes and radiation beam delivery units.

Many industry groups have voiced concerns for these tariffs, including the vice president of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), who testified in front of the USTR on May 16 and estimated the tariffs would equate to $2.25 billion in taxes on its members including medical imaging device manufacturers.

The Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA) further backed a letter to USTR’s Robert Lighhizer urging the organization exempt $3 billion related to medical devices, citing potential increases to healthcare costs and restricted patient-access to cutting-edge technology.

The tariffs follow a May 29 promise by President Trump that stated the USTR would announce its decision by June 15 on whether to impose the duties.

The second set of 284 products “will undergo further review in a public notice and comment process, including public hearing,” according to the USTR statement. Those products account for approximately $16 billion.

In the coming weeks, the USTR will issue a notice in the Federal Register with details for those U.S. companies seeking to request exclusion of particular products from additional duties. However, most items listed do not apply to medical device imaging.

“USTR recognizes that some U.S. companies may have an interest in importing items from China that are covered by the additional duties. Accordingly, USTR will soon provide an opportunity for the public to request the exclusion of particular products from the additional duties subject to this action,” according to the statement.