Industry Groups Seek Tariff Exemptions Amid Pandemic

U.S. trade officials received requests to exclude robots, drones and networking equipment.


As the coronavirus pandemic accelerated through the country in March, U.S. trade officials added ventilators, oxygen masks and nebulizers to a list of medical equipment exempted from tariffs on goods imported from overseas.

In an effort to identify other potential steps that could help fight COVID-19, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative also asked businesses and other groups to submit their concerns about additional tariffs at the time.

They apparently weren’t shy, with responses that sought relief on products ranging from 3D printers and networking equipment to printer ink and hand dryers.

Reuters, citing documents made public this week, reports that the Consumer Technology Association asked for waivers on sensors and cameras for telehealth services, wireless communications equipment, cleaning robots and delivery drones.

The Computing Technology Industry Association noted that doctors and nurses rely on computers, servers and printers, while the American Chemistry Council called for exemptions for cleaning products, pharmaceutical ingredients and protective equipment. The American Apparel & Footwear Association and National Elevator Industry also reportedly weighed in.

The CTA also took the opportunity to point out that tariffs, in addition to hindering the nation’s crisis response, imposed taxes on businesses and consumers who were entering “survival mode.”

The trade office reportedly did not respond to requests for comment.

More in Video