U.S. medical device industry representatives, for now, appear to be taking a wait and see approach as President Donald Trump’s administration wrangles over trade policy and threatens tariffs against China. The status of China tariffs on medical devices is unknown at this time as the Trump administration continues to make changes to its trade policies with China.
The U.S. is set to impose a 25% tariff on about $50 billion worth of goods imported from China containing industrially significant technology, including those related to the “Made in China 2025” program. The final list of imports will be announced by June 15.
White House officials recently put out a statement that said China has been taking advantage of the American economy and that is not part of the fair and reciprocal trade that the U.S. expects. According to the White House, China has previously imposed higher tariffs on U.S. exports than what the U.S. imposes on China.
China also recently put out a statement that said the new proposed tariffs being announced on June 15 are “contrary to the consensus reached between the two sides in Washington not long ago.”
Last month, the Trump administration announced a plan to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods. Of that number, $5 billion were medical device and technology products, many actually made by U.S. companies, according to Greg Crist, executive VP of public affairs at trade group AdvaMed.
Crist said that industry officials are “surprised and disappointed” by the situation, especially because the U.S. Trade Representative report about potentially unfair Chinese trade practices didn’t even mention medical technology.
White House press officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
The original drafted list of products facing tariffs in the U.S. listed about 1,300 products while China’s own $50 billion tariff plan listed about 106 products. A total 30 finished medical devices are presently listed on the proposed U.S. tariff list, according to AdvaMed. Products including needles, catheters, defibrillators, X-Rays, patient monitoring systems, respiration devices and more will receive increased import taxes.
A group of 40 lawmakers is working on trying to remove medical devices from the list of Chinese products that may be facing tariffs. In a recent letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Congressmen Erik Paulsen (MN-03) and Scott Peters (CA-52) asked to have the billions of dollars of medical technology products removed from the list.
“We do not believe that imposing additional tariffs on medical technology products would advance the policy objective you have articulated, which is to target products that benefit from China’s industrial and economic plans while minimizing the impact on the U.S. economy,” the Congressmen said in the letter.
The Congressmen mentioned that the U.S. medical technology industry has been “historically competitive” on a global level. In 2017 alone, U.S. exports of medical technology to the world was about $52.5 billion. Imports totaled $51.4 billion with a surplus of $1.1 billion.
“Imposing tariffs on medical technology products from China also ignores the nearly balanced trade relationship between U.S. and China in medical technology products,” Reps. Paulsen and Peters said in their letter to Lighthizer. “The U.S. trade deficit with China in medical technology products is negligible and shrinking yearly to under $400,000,000 in 2017 ($4.7 billion exports/$5 billion imports). In fact, we understand that the U.S. currently has a surplus with China for the medical device products included on the Section 301 proposed tariff list.”