China to waive tariffs on US medical imports amid virus outbreak

by AFP/ graphic by MZUKRI

BEIJING – China will waive trade-war tariffs on imports of selected US medical equipment from March 2, the government said Tuesday, as the country battles to contain the new coronavirus epidemic.

More than 72,000 people have been infected by the outbreak of the new COVID-19 strain in China, which has claimed the lives of over 1,800 people.

Products that will qualify for the exemptions include patient monitors, blood transfusion equipment and instruments to measure blood pressure, according to a list released by the Tariff Commission of the State Council.

The commission said the move was “to better meet the growing needs of Chinese consumers” and that it would accept applications from firms in China.

The tariff exemptions will apply for a designated period, supporting firms that want to import from the US based on “business considerations”, said authorities.

The list of eligible products also includes a wide range of food items such as frozen pork, beef and seafood.

There has been a spike in pork prices in China over the past year due to African Swine Fever, which ravaged pig herds across the country.

The latest move follows other exemptions or cuts that China has announced – either related to its virus fight or a trade deal it signed with the US in January.

At the start of the month, China said US imports that can be used in its fight against the deadly virus will be exempted from retaliatory tariffs imposed in the trade war.

More than a week ago, Beijing also announced it would halve tariffs on $75 billion worth of US imports as part of its trade truce with the US.