U.S. excludes Chinese face masks, medical gear from tariffs
as coronavirus spreads

Date: 2020-03-25

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FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a face mask waits for the train as a MTA worker disinfects a subway station in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Trade Representative’s office in recent days granted exclusions from import tariffs for dozens of medical products imported from China, including face masks, hand sanitizing wipes and examination gloves, filings with the agency showed on Friday.

Many of the exclusion requests for medical products appear to have been expedited amid the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak, with approvals granted just over one month past a Jan. 31 application deadline

The products were included in a fourth round of tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by Trump on Sept. 1, 2019, amid heated U.S.-China trade negotiations. The tariff rate on the medical products was initially set at 15%, but was lowered to 7.5% on Feb. 15 as part of the Phase 1 U.S.-China trade agreement. The deal leaves in place tariffs on about $370 billion worth of imports from China, including 25% duties on goods valued at around $250 billion.