Biden administration extends U.S. tariff exclusion on Chinese medical goods

FILE PHOTO: Protective masks, surgical gloves and cleaning supplies are seen at a COVID-19 saliva testing site inside the former Thomas Edison Elementary School, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Moorhead, Minnesota, U.S., October 25, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Biden administration is extending tariff exclusions on about 99 categories of medical products from China until Sept. 30, 2021 to aid the fight against COVID-19, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said in a Federal Register notice here on Wednesday.

The list of exclusions covers items from masks and gloves to blood pressure cuff sleeves and X-ray tables. The extension of a previous tariff exclusion on the medical goods under the Trump administration’s “Section 301” tariffs was set to lapse on March 31.

“In light of the continuing efforts to combat COVID-19, the U.S. Trade Representative has determined that it is inappropriate to allow the exclusions for certain products to lapse,” the trade agency said in the notice signed by USTR General Counsel Greta Peisch.

Most of the products had been included in a fourth round of tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by President Donald Trump on Sept. 1, 2019, at the height of the U.S.-China trade war. They were hit with an initial U.S. tariff rate of 15% that was later lowered to 7.5% as part of the U.S.-China “Phase 1” trade agreement enacted in February 2020.

Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Grant McCool