ARKANSAS, USA — As Arkansas received a vital shipment of personal protection equipment (PPE) to help healthcare workers slow the spread of the COVID-19, the Trump administration is quietly seeking to ease some restrictions in the ongoing trade war with China on critical products such as ventilators, oxygen masks, and other health-related products
In a docket posted to the Federal Register on Friday (Mar. 20), the U.S. Office of United States Trade Representative is seeking comments on the administration’s efforts to modify certain tariffs on Chinese goods under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
In the four-page filing, the U.S. Trade office said it has used its authority under Section 301 to impose tariffs on Chinese goods related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation.
But now, USTR is asking individuals, businesses and government agencies to submit comments promptly if they believe further changes to the Section 301 tariffs are necessary.
“At the direction of the President, the U.S. Trade Representative has imposed duties on products of China in order to obtain the elimination of the unfair and damaging acts, policies, and practices identified in this investigation,” the filing states. “In order to reflect developments in the efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, USTR is requesting public comments on possible further modifications to remove duties from additional medical-care products.”
Interested parties have until June 25 to comment on whether a product not covered in the trade pact is needed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
News of a possible trade policy change spread quickly Monday as Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced during his daily COVID-19 media briefings that Arkansas would be receiving a shipment of 2 million PPEs from the Strategic National Stockpile.
Hutchinson said the state procurement officials have received 25% of its requested allotment from national inventory housed in the U.S. Department of Human Services.
The PPEs heading to Arkansas comes from the largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.
Those limited supplies come as the number of positive coronavirus cases in Arkansas rose to 174, up from 165 on the previous day.
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