China to waive tariffs on US medical imports amid virus outbreak

China to waive tariffs on US medical imports amid virus outbreak

China coronavirus
This photo taken on Jan 22, 2020, shows medical staff members wearing protective suits at the Zhongnan hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. (Photo: AFP/STR)

BEIJING: China will waive trade-war tariffs on imports of selected US medical equipment from Mar 2, the government said Tuesday (Feb 18), as the country battles to contain the new coronavirus epidemic.

More than 72,000 people have been infected by the outbreak of the new COVID-19 strain in China, which has claimed the lives of over 1,800 people.

Products that will qualify for the exemptions include patient monitors, blood transfusion equipment and instruments to measure blood pressure, according to a list released by the Tariff Commission of the State Council.

READ: China's COVID-19 death toll passes 1,800

The commission said the move was "to better meet the growing needs of Chinese consumers" and that it would accept applications from firms in China.

The tariff exemptions will apply for a designated period, supporting firms that want to import from the US based on "business considerations", said authorities.

The list of eligible products also includes a wide range of food items such as frozen pork, beef and seafood.

There has been a spike in pork prices in China over the past year due to African Swine Fever, which ravaged pig herds across the country.

The latest move follows other exemptions or cuts that China has announced - either related to its virus fight or a trade deal it signed with the US in January.

At the start of the month, China said US imports that can be used in its fight against the deadly virus will be exempted from retaliatory tariffs imposed in the trade war.

More than a week ago, Beijing also announced it would halve tariffs on US$75 billion worth of US imports as part of its trade truce with the US.

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Source: AFP/mn

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