Exclusive-Biden to put tariffs on China medical supplies – sources

By Thomson Reuters May 10, 2024 | 10:42 AM

By Jarrett Renshaw and Trevor Hunnicutt

(Reuters) – The Biden administration is expected to issue new tariffs on Chinese-made medical devices like syringes and personal protective equipment when it unveils its new trade strategy next week, according to two sources familiar with the decision.

The expected moves are part of the administration’s broader strategy to protect the U.S. against supply shortages seen during the COVID pandemic that left hospitals scrambling to find critical equipment, the sources said.

President Joe Biden is set to announce new China tariffs as soon as next week targeting strategic sectors including electric vehicles, solar panels and steel. The size and the scale of the tariffs on medical equipment is unclear.

The White House declined to comment.

For years, China’s leaders have worried that the country depended too much on foreign sources for everything from medical supplies to microchips and used subsidies, economic targets and other government inducements to emerge as a powerhouse in those important industries.

The COVID pandemic exposed a lack of U.S. production of critical medical equipment from gowns and masks to ventilators and the U.S. turned to China for help to fill the gap.

Imports of syringes from China peaked at $348 million in 2021, but have declined since to about $167 million last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw and Trevor Hunnicutt; additional reporting by David Lawder. Editing by Heather Timmons and Caitlin Webber)