On May 4, 2020, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) released the results of its investigation to identify imported products related to the COVID-19 pandemic response. The report and database identify 112 U.S. Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) numbers covering a “mix of COVID-19 related” goods, including test kits/instruments;  disinfectants and sterilization products; pulse oximeters and equipment for medical imaging, diagnostics and oxygen therapy; medicines/pharmaceuticals; non-PPE medical consumables and hospital supplies; and personal protective equipment.  Of the 112 identified HTS numbers, the report determined that products in 76 of the numbers are imported duty-free, with 36 subject to some form of a general duty rate. Notably, 55 of the HTS numbers are subject to additional duty rates in the ongoing China Section 301 investigation, with 39 headings subject to 25 percent additional tariffs and 16 subject to 7.5 percent additional tariffs when the products are imported from China.

The investigation was requested by Congress (see Trump and Trade Update of April 8, 2020) and provides trade-related information for each product. Specifically, the USITC produced a database that provides the following information for each product it identified:

  • the 10-digit HTS number for the imported article and its description;
  • the general duty rate;
  • any special or additional rates of duty imposed on the article, the dates on which the rates were imposed, and the authorities under which they were imposed;
  • whether any such duties have been suspended and, if so, the date of suspension as well how long suspension is scheduled to last;
  • the total range of duty rates imposed on such articles, including any special or additional rate of duty; and
  • the major countries of origin for each HTS number identified, and the import value of that HTS number for each country for the years 2017-2019.

COVID-19 Related Goods: U.S. Imports and Tariffs (Investigation No. 332-576, USITC publication 5047, April 2020) is available on the USITC’s website at https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub5047.xlsx.  The USITC will provide any updated data runs on its website through June 30, 2020. Because many of the HTS numbers encompass goods not related to COVID-19, the report is careful to note, the data may substantially overstate the value of U.S. imports of such related goods.

In response to the report and data, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) called for a 90-day suspension of all tariffs on products identified by the USITC and relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic response. He added that such tariff suspensions “must be subject to a straightforward and easily administrable process for affected stakeholders to object.”  Chairman Neal’s complete analysis of the USITC’s report is available here. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) stated that the report “is excellent work by the ITC to centralize trade-related information on products that may be needed to respond to the ongoing pandemic. It will help inform policymaking both in Congress and in the Administration.”

The USITC is an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, and this general factfinding investigation and the resulting database convey the USITC’s objective findings and independent analyses with no recommendations on policy or other matters.