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Biden administration to boost tariffs on Chinese medical supplies

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Article

The move will increase the tariff on syringes and needles to 50%.

white house | © kropic - stock.adobe.com

© kropic - stock.adobe.com

The Biden administration announced its plan to increase tariffs on Chinese-made medical supplies as part of a broader push to tax imports from the rival nation.

Syringes and needles will see a tariff rate increase from 0% to 50% this year. Meanwhile the tariff on PPE like face masks and respirators will increase from. 0-7.5% to 25% this year, according to a White House factsheet on the move.

The administration also plans an increase on rubber medical and surgical glove tariffs from 7.5% to 25% in 2026.

“These tariff rate increases will help support and sustain a strong domestic industrial base for medical supplies that were essential to the COVID-19 pandemic response, and continue to be used daily in every hospital across the country to deliver essential care,” the factsheet says. “American businesses are now struggling to compete with underpriced Chinese-made supplies dumped on the market, sometimes of such poor quality that they may raise safety concerns for health care workers and patients.”

The administration also announced increased tariffs on steel and aluminum, semiconductors, electric vehicles and their parts, solar cells, and ship-to-shore cranes. The move is positioned as a national security measure and as a way to protect American businesses from what the administration calls “China’s unfair trade practices concerning technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation.”

“China’s forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft have contributed to its control of 70, 80, and even 90 percent of global production for the critical inputs necessary for our technologies, infrastructure, energy, and health care—creating unacceptable risks to America’s supply chains and economic security,” the factsheet says. “Furthermore, these same non-market policies and practices contribute to China’s growing overcapacity and export surges that threaten to significantly harm American workers, businesses, and communities.”

Health care prices and inflation

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the cost of medical care rose in April and contributed to the 0.3% increase in inflation during that time.

Under medical care services, monthly price increases generally were less than 1%, but the year-on-year figures showed increases in some segments of health care, according to the unadjusted figures published by BLS.

Physicians’ services rose 0.1% for the month and 0.9% for the year. Dental services were up 0.4% for the month, eyeglasses and eyecare rose 0.9% for the month, and both those were up 4.1% for the year. Services by other medical professionals decreased 0.8% from March to April, but were up 0.6% year over year.

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health