The United States has decided to extend exemptions of punitive tariffs for some COVID-related medical products from China.

In a statement issued on November 23, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that the COVID-related product exclusions in the so-called China Section 301 Investigation would be further extended.

The exclusions were initially scheduled to expire at the end of November. 

However, the U.S. Trade Representative said the exclusions had been extended for an additional three months through February 28, 2023.

The office cites the continuing efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exclusions cover 81 medical-care products, such as pump bottles for hand sanitizer, plastic containers for sanitizing wipes, blood pressure monitors, fingertip pulse oximeters, MRI machines, and X-ray tables.

Other related products affected by the extension include face masks, surgical gloves, and hospital gowns.

The exclusions from tariffs of up to 25% imposed by former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration were granted in 2020.

President Joe Biden’s administration extended the tariff exemptions once in November 2021 and again in June.

The U.S. Trade Representative said it might continue to consider further extensions or additional modifications as appropriate.

According to SCMP, President Joe Biden has been under pressure to end the Section 301 tariffs as inflation hit the highest level in decades.

Trade tensions between the U.S. and China escalated when then-President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on $350 billion worth of Chinese goods, alleging unfair trade practices and theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property.

The two countries signed a phase one trade agreement in January 2020, under which China pledged to boost its purchases of American products and services by at least $200 billion between 2020 and 2021. However, the target was not met during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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