While the United States Trade Representative Office (USTR) has made certain exemptions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic—including waiving tariffs on imported ventilators, oxygen masks and nebulizers—a number of U.S. trade groups, including the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), have requested to broaden the scope of tariff-free products. Reuters reports that the CTA has called on the USTR to waive tariffs on products including 3D printers, drones, robots and personal computers that are made in China.
The CTA and other industry groups published a series of letters that were sent to the USTR, explaining how the aforementioned technologies, as well as others, have an important role to play in mitigating and managing the COVID-19 outbreak across the United States. The idea is to remove any barriers for importing not only essential medical gear, but also auxiliary equipment and products that are needed.
As the CTA wrote in its letter to the USTR: “These tariffs are not only a barrier to the entry of necessary products, they are a tax on businesses and consumers that has become ever more harmful as many enter ‘survival mode’.”
Over the past few months, we’ve seen how important 3D printers have become in rapidly producing critical equipment such as PPE and ventilator parts. Many companies and even individuals are leveraging 3D printing to produce much-needed supplies for local hospitals or healthcare centers. Other technologies, like robots, could be used to sterilize surfaces, and drones could be used to deliver medical supplies. Personal computers could be used for remote education purposes, as well as for providing telehealth services.
Other industry groups, including the American Chemistry Council, the Computing Technology Industry Association and the American Apparel & Footwear Association, have also requested exemptions for disinfectants, medicinal chemicals, printers ink and toner, reusable masks and more.
The CTA is a trade association in the U.S. that represents the country’s $422 billion consumer technology industry, which supports more than 18 million U.S. jobs. The group advocates for the industry and hosts global events, including the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).