In the past three weeks, more than 100 requests have been made to federal trade authorities requesting tariff relief on these supplies and other products made in China to help fight the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
Medical supplies company Glo-Med said the additional fees are for the individual hand sanitizer it sells to hospitals, according to a comment it submitted to the office of the US trade representative. G Mason Group, which sells hand sanitizer to national retailers and grocers, is also part of request a tariff exemption.
The demands also extend to other health products. The Home Depot recently requested tariff relief for thermometers and the Honest Company, which was founded by actress Jessica Alba and sells baby and beauty products, is requesting a waiver for alcoholic wipes.
All of these products are subject to tariffs introduced last year in the midst of Trump’s trade war with China. The rights remain active despite a partial commercial agreement concluded at the beginning of this year. This makes it more expensive for suppliers to import the ingredients needed to make and sell hand sanitizer in the United States, where it is so rare that even artisanal distilleries go into manufacturing.
Related: Don’t Try To Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer
Some companies are finding relief. One of the best-known hand sanitizers, Purell, is made in the United States by Ohio-based Gojo. Last week, he obtained a tariff waiver for the distributors he manufactures in China.
Tariff complaints continue despite the fact that the United States imported more hand sanitizer in 2017 from the European Union and Canada than from China, according to research by Chad Brown, senior researcher at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
But companies are scrambling to find new ways to store American shelves and put supplies in the hands of essential workers.
Bausch Health Companies told trade officials in their request that it is converting a production line available in China to produce a hand sanitizer that would be given to health care providers, first responders and other volunteers in the United States -United, but she currently has to pay the additional fee when he returns the product and wants relief.
Some chemical companies, such as First Continental International, are requesting a waiver for isopropyl alcohol, a key ingredient used by manufacturers of hand sanitizers.
“US producers of isopropyl alcohol don’t have enough capacity and can’t keep up with rising demand from US manufacturers of hand sanitizers,” the company writes, noting that the average price per pound of alcohol isopropyl has increased by about 20% since November.
The USTR did not respond to comments on new requests for tariff exemption for other products.
Last month, in response to the coronavirus epidemic, the office of the United States Trade Representative granted tariff waivers on certain medical products made in China. This included certain face masks, surgical gowns, sample containers, antimicrobial sheets and blood pressure cuffs. It also set up a new portal on which companies could request price reduction linked to cornavirus.
At the time, the agency said the rates had “not resulted in an overall decline in the availability of necessary medical equipment and supplies.”