Trade war of the worlds: US finalizes tariffs on $50B worth of Chinese products, including medical equipment

After months of statements, speculation, trade talks, tweets and threats, the U.S. government has officially put tariffs in place on $50 billion worth of products imported from China, including medical imaging equipment. X-ray, CT and MRI equipment are all on the list of products included in this announcement.

While approximately $34 billion worth of Chinese goods are covered by the initial list of items published by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), approximately $16 billion worth of items are included in a second list of items to undergo "further review in a public notice and comment process." 

“We must take strong defensive actions to protect America’s leadership in technology and innovation against the unprecedented threat posed by China’s theft of our intellectual property, the forced transfer of American technology, and its cyber-attacks on our computer networks,” Ambassador Robert Lighthizer said in a USTR statement. “China’s government is aggressively working to undermine America’s high-tech industries and our economic leadership through unfair trade practices and industrial policies like ‘Made in China 2025.’  Technology and innovation are America’s greatest economic assets and President Trump rightfully recognizes that if we want our country to have a prosperous future, we must take a stand now to uphold fair trade and protect American competitiveness.”

China’s Commerce Ministry issued a statement in response to the news, saying the U.S. has provoked “a trade war.”

“We will immediately introduce taxation measures of the same scale and the same strength,” the statement read. "All the economic and trade achievements previously reached by the two parties will no longer be valid at the same time. In today’s era, launching a trade war is not in the global interest.”

According to the USTR statement, U.S. companies will have an opportunity to request exclusions for certain products. More information is expected “within the next few weeks.”

Back in March, the Trump administration first floated the idea of implementing such tariffs. In April, the USTR published a proposed list of products that could be subject to an additional duty of 25 percent.

On May 20, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin indicated the trade war was being put “on hold,” but the tariffs were then back on the table by May 29.

Additional Radiology Business coverage of this issue can be read here and here.