Tariffs on Chinese goods are hurting U.S. coronavirus fight
Wang Guan

Editor's Note : The U.S. has overtaken China as the country with the highest number of coronavirus cases. Essential medical goods such as personal protective equipment, patient monitors are still on Trump's China tariffs list. In this episode of Reality Check with Wang Guan, CGTN anchor Wang Guan finds out how man-made barriers are exacerbating the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The largest stimulus package in U.S. history. The emergency aid bill passed by the U.S. Senate to fight the coronavirus includes sending millions of Americans a one-time check of 1,200 dollars.

Some would think this is welcome news in these dark times ... until they looked at another set of data.

The Congressional Budget Office shows U.S. tariffs, much of them against China, will reduce average American household income by 1,277 dollars in 2020.

In other words, the U.S. government is paying the Americans now almost the exact same amount it will charge them later this year.

No matter how many times President Trump claims that other countries are paying the price, evidence shows tariff is a tax paid mostly by American businesses and consumers.

And these taxes cannot come at a worse time, as the coronavirus is spiraling out of control.

Research by Chad Bown at the Peterson Institute for International Economics shows critical medical products remain on Trump's China tariffs list.

Products such as disposable medical headwear, CT systems and hand sanitizers are subject to a 25-percent tax ...

Things like personal protection equipment, protective goggles and medical protective clothing are subject to a 7.5-percent tax.

With these goods becoming more expensive, U.S. hospitals and clinics buy less of them from China, and more from other countries, often at a higher price.

Imports of Chinese medical goods fell by 16 percent, or nearly 200 million U.S. dollars in the past two years.

Since the outbreak, there have been constant reports of shortages of some of those medical goods in U.S. hospitals, which slowed diagnosis and treatment. As of March 27, the U.S. has overtaken China as the country with the most positive cases.

All this could have been avoided.

In June 2019, Linda O'Neill, vice president at Health Industry Distributors Association, said at a Section 301 tariff hearing, which I happened to attend as a Washington-based reporter back then, that "tariffs on critical health care products put a risk to our nation's public health preparedness."

Apparently, prescient calls like this went unheeded.

Politicians are willing to sacrifice the law of economics for political expediency, but the ongoing pandemic shows us once again that man-made barriers to free trade can hurt all of us, including the very people these tariffs are said to benefit.

Script: Wang Guan

Video editor: Liu Shasha

Designer: Wang Naiqian

Videographer: Qi Jianqiang

Producer: Bi Jianlu

Supervisor: Mei Yan

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