As Coronavirus Outbreak Hit, Trump Administration Refused To Ease Hand Sanitizer Tariffs

Trump's anti-China trade advisor, Peter Navarro, is now playing a major role in the White House's coronavirus response. What could go wrong?


It was quite clear by March 5 that the COVID-19 outbreak was going to be trouble. At least 200 Americans in 17 states were already infected with the virus. The Dow Jones fell by more than 1,000 points that day. Vice President Mike Pence admitted there would not be enough coronavirus test kits available to meet growing demand.

And on that same day, the federal government rejected a request from Gojo Industries, the company that makes Purell hand sanitizer, to exempt some of its products from the 25 percent tariffs that President Donald Trump imposed in 2018. Specifically, the company was seeking to avoid paying tariffs on automated dispensers, which are assembled in the United States but depend on electronic parts manufactured in China.

"Your request was denied because the request failed to show that the imposition of additional duties on the particular product would cause severe economic harm to you or other U.S. interests," wrote Joseph Barloon, general counsel for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The process for gaining an exemption from Trump's anti-China tariffs is a complex, opaque process with no due process for businesses whose requests are denied. The system gives the executive branch unilateral authority to determine what products get taxed and which do not.

Gojo Industries applied for that exemption in 2019, before the coronavirus was a threat or there was a shortage of hand sanitizer on American store shelves. But the March 5 rejection demonstrates acutely how Trump's trade policies undermined U.S. public health in advance of the outbreak by forcing American consumers and businesses to pay higher prices for goods needed to fight the outbreak, likely resulting in lower inventories.

The rejection also shows that, even as the coronavirus was starting to have an impact in America, the administration was still working to keep trade barriers raised. Less than a week later, on March 10, the administration would issue a blanket exemption for many medical goods and equipment imported from China.

The Trump administration imposed tariffs on hand sanitizer, patient monitors, thermometers, oxygen concentrators, medical protective clothing, and sterile gloves in three phases since July 2018. Those tariffs were imposed despite repeated warnings from medical professionals that they would disrupt supply chains and erode the health care industry's ability to respond to a crisis.

According to research from the Peterson Institute of International Economics, imports of Chinese-made medical products fell by 16 percent from 2017 (the last full year before Trump's tariffs) to 2019.

The administration's protectionist policies "can only happen by imposing wrenching costs on businesses and consumers throughout the economy," says Dan Ikenson, director of the center for trade policy studies at the Cato Institute. "It is shocking, though, that they will even go so far as to sacrifice public health and undermine efforts to contain the pandemic in service to their evil ideology."

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer defended the decision to impose those tariffs in op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. "By encouraging diversification of supply chains and—better yet—more manufacturing in the U.S., President Trump's economic and trade policies are helping" reduce America's vulnerability of having to import medical goods from other countries, Lighthizer argued.

But in requesting an exemption for their automated dispensers, Gojo Industries made it clear that moving production back to the United States was not possible.

"Attempts by GOJO to unilaterally move production out of China would require reverse engineering of the RFID chip that is manufactured by a Canadian company in China," the company wrote in its application. "Such action would violate their intellectual property. GOJO does not control the ability to move that production."

Moving production to another country was similarly out of the question.

"Third country sourcing is being explored but changing source requires time and money. An exclusion protects the existing supply chain for the U.S. manufactured product," the company explained in its request.

Nevertheless, the request was denied.

NEXT: Airlines Make Out Like Bandits in $2.3 Trillion Coronavirus Aid Bill

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    1. “Trump Administration Refused To Ease Hand Sanitizer Tariffs”
      “the federal government rejected a request from Gojo Industries, the company that makes Purell hand sanitizer, to exempt some of its products from the 25 percent tariffs”

      Oh Noes! Trump’s blocking hand sanitizer! Evil, right?
      Well let’s follow the links.

      “Gojo Industries, the inventor and manufacturer of Purell-branded products, builds its hand-sanitizer and soap dispensers in the U.S., but a key input that ensures the dispensers work” – Bloomberg

      Oh, so it’s not actually hand sanitizer at all but a “key component” for the dispenser. Well that’s not what Boehm is implying above, but dispensers are important, right? It’d be bad to block dispensers “key components”.
      Let’s read on…

      “In a tariff-exemption request last year, Akron, Ohio-based Gojo said it’s exploring third-country sourcing but added that unilaterally moving production would require reverse engineering of a key chip that’s manufactured by a Canadian company in China.”

      Wait! The request was last fucking year? And it’s for a computer chip in the fancy motion detection dispensers, and doesn’t affect the regular dispensers that even hospitals use?

      So as usual Boehm prevaricates.
      I’m so sick of the fucking dishonesty here, what the hell are the editors doing.
      Even car salesmen can’t legally get away with this level of bullshit. Why can ‘journalists’?

      1. A Trump fan claiming to be sick and tired of lies.

        These losers lack self-awareness, but they can’t avoid replacement.

        1. Your tantrum in defense of fake news is powerfully convincing.

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          2. Kirkland correctly points out the irony.

        2. So ignore demonstrable lying by a journo and attack me instead for pointing it out.
          As expected of Kirkland.

          1. Not a journalist, an advocacy writer

          2. Let’s be fair here. We don’t know that Eric Boehm is lying, which would require an intent to deceive. It is entirely possible that Boehm is simply stupid and too lazy to do even the minimal amount of research that his readers did quite easily. If he was more dishonest than stupid, he would have read the links he provided that debunked his story before providing them.

            And let’s be honest, how many smart writers still work at Reason for what they’re paying? Most of the time we don’t even bother to read the articles anymore because the work and analysis are so weak. The people we used to come here for mostly bailed for other publications a long time ago, and Gillespie and Welch went progtard with Reason’s move to the Beltway. The quality of their work has dropped too. We’re usually just here for the comments.

            If they were good journalists, they wouldn’t be writing here…someone else would be paying them more.

      2. Perhaps not appropriate to what is going on, however, where are the face masks? The US can’t even make face masks? And Trump the chump is promising ventilators by the end of March. Ford and Chevy are going to make them. Does he not understand, you need to make tooling and assembly lines? There are no more toll and die shops, they were gutted by the vulture hedge fund managers and wall street, all sent to the commies in China. Who is going to build the tooling? It take many months. The Chinese did not invade and take all our industry back to their homeland, the wall street vultures out of pure greed gutted US manufacturing and sent it all to communist china to capitalize on the near slave labor wages, throwing their fellow American worker down the sewer. Trump originally ignored the virus, said it was a hoax. Now he comes charging like the white knight to the rescue, making idiotic promises. I regret to say I voted for the guy, he turned out to be nothing than a big fat empty suit, a buffoon, a court jester of the wall street oligarchs, who looks like he spends more time in a tanning booth than in the oval office. His favorite word seems to be “incredible”. Every one who blows feather up his arse and his corporate buddies are all incredible..doing an incredible job. What I find incredible is how incredibly inept this stooge is.

        1. If you would have done a little research before your rant, you’d have learned that they’re creating the respirators out of already existing components.
          Like the fans, for instance, are coming from air conditioned seat assemblies.
          No major retooling necessary.

          1. It’s standard leftist pablum – no research needed

            1. +1000

              The Narrative BECOMES THE TRUTH!

      3. You cannot be a libertarian AND support protectionism. The end.

        1. Well, lucky then that Trump’s tariffs are not protectionism.

          1. They are. WTF are you smoking? Retaliatory tariffs are protectionist.

  1. Do you lose your balance when you reach that far, Boehm?

    1. Boehm the birdbrain has no balance, which is why he is a perfect fit for Unreason.

      1. Libtard.

  2. Don’t kid yourself: tariffs never have negative consequences /sarc

    1. Right or wrong it seems that Trump is attempting to use tariffs to make it economically feasible for American companies to produce stuff that they commonly buy from China. The latest kerfuffle has revealed that we’re probably too dependent on cheap shit from China. They’ve not been shy about cutting off supply chains that companies like Gojo depend on when the shit hits the fan.

      1. So why did he exempt Apple from paying tarrifs? Is it because they are much, much, much bigger than Gojo?

  3. Wuhanvirus is a hysterical minor medical situation compared to the seasonal Flu and Cold anyway.

    Boehm’s hysterical Propaganda is not working.

    1. I heard it was developed in a government lab by the Wuhan Clan.

      1. By an aged, unsanitary scientist of uncertain paternity

        1. And his lab was certainly nothing to fuck with

      2. I was gonna to Wang Chung tonight.

    2. Your spamming is just a big billboard on your account flagging you as “supreme idiot.” You know that right?

      1. poor unreason. Still sending in sock trolls.

        1. Citation for Coronavirus being a minor situation?

        2. Trump has conceded there could be 100,000 deaths.

    3. Commievirus is the new “domino theory” epidemic. Remember when Republicans assured us slaves had to burn and carpet-bomb French Indochina to stop the spread of communist contagion? Well, same thing.

    4. Citation for it being “minor.” I’ll wait.

  4. China’s coronavirus test kits that they sent to Spain and Czechia were utter dog-crap, failing at a 70% clip, but I’m sure their hand sanitizer production was completely trustworthy and not at all a quasi-placebo.

    1. Only the Chinese can make hand sanitizer.
      Certainly no American producer could possibly be found

      1. They could before the 18th Amendment.

      2. It’s complicated stuff. It’s not like anyone could just make it at home.

      3. It’s not even hand sanitizer, even though Boehm dishonestly implies it is.
        He doesn’t come out and say it in the article, but if you follow the links you’ll find that he’s actually talking about a computer chip for just one of their many, many different types of dispensers.

        This is the equivalent of writing an article saying Trump’s stopping gasoline imports, and then when you dig you find out it’s actually just about a chip for one type of pump used at some Mobile stations.

        1. “Specifically, the company was seeking to avoid paying tariffs on automated dispensers, which are assembled in the United States but depend on electronic parts manufactured in China.”

          Right from EB’s article above. It is the Evil, Lying Mamma here, that is the Mamma of All Lies! Or is Mamma so addicted to making up bullshit, that she won’t even read the stuff she shits all over, with her lies? Your lies (and your stupid) are as obvious as your evil, Mamma!

          1. Nice white knighting for Boehm, Sqrls.
            However, from the article:

            “Trump Administration Refused To Ease Hand Sanitizer Tariffs”
            “The Trump administration imposed tariffs on hand sanitizer”

            Even though Boehm mumbles about automated dispenser components, he’s definitely implying that it’s hand sanitizer itself that is subject to the tariffs. And as you can see here, most read it that way.

            1. “…most read it that way.” Why? Because they are too lazy to read the whole article? Does the title have to CONTAIN EVERY LAST LITTLE DETAIL before it can be considered honest? Honest people will read the whole article, before they start lying about the article’s contents! Titles are summaries; the article can be read by honest and intelligent people!

              Someone has to keep the liars honest! Looks like it is me, for here and today!

              “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

              1. “Does the title have to CONTAIN EVERY LAST LITTLE DETAIL”
                The title flat out lied you creepy coprophagic. It clearly says; “Trump Administration Refused To Ease Hand Sanitizer Tariffs”, not “A Computer Chip for a Certain Model of Automated Dispenser Tariffs.”

                “Honest people will read the whole article, before they start lying about the article’s contents”
                Well you’re not honest people then. From the article, paragraph 7: “The Trump administration imposed tariffs on hand sanitizer”.

                I don’t know if your reading comprehension sucks, or you’re just that dishonest, Sqrls.

                1. Title:
                  The Fox Jumped

                  The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy yellow dog.

                  Stupid Lying Mamma:
                  Writer lied! Told us NOTHING about the fox, or the fox’s motives! Totally lied about the fact that there was a dog there!

                  1. You’ve got nothing left, huh.

        2. +1000

  5. “The process for gaining an exemption from Trump’s anti-China tariffs is a complex, opaque process with no due process for businesses whose requests are denied. The system gives the executive branch unilateral authority to determine what products get taxed and which do not.”

    The major mistakes made by Gojo Industries executives were basically two-fold:

    ‘1) Not making sufficient campaign donations to The Donald, and

    ‘2) Not ponying up for enough pony-rides for The Donald, bareback, and barefront, on Stormy Daniels!

    1. The Don is enforcing his party’s platform plank on Libertarians: “Mandatory minimum sentencing became an important tool for keeping them off the streets. Modifications to it should be targeted toward particular categories, especially nonviolent offenders and persons with drug, alcohol, or mental health issues, and should require disclosure by the courts of any judicial departure from the state’s sentencing requirements.” Alcohol (hand sanitizer) baaad! Read any Republican platform that mentions it and you’ll see.

      1. ” Alcohol (hand sanitizer) baaad”

        If you follow the links, you’ll find that Boehm is lying. The tariff is on a computer chip for a fancy model of dispenser and not on sanitizer at all.

        1. See my post a few paragraphs above, stupid liar!

          1. And see my reply above to your lie, you creepy, poo-tasting aspie.

            1. Yes, I responded, too. Liar, liar, pants on fire!

              None are so blind as those who refuse to see! Or to read!

              1. Blindness, so that explains your lack of reading comprehension.

  6. Just the machine parts, not the stuff itself . Too lazy to pump it out of a bottle?

    1. Pumping it out of the bottle spreads germs.

      People use the pump before their hands gets sanitized, and as different people use the hand pump it collects a larger and larger variety of germs. True, their hands get sanitized AFTER they touch the pump, so you might think they’re okay, but the sanitizer can’t kill all the germs. And as more and more people use the pump, the more likely it becomes that they pick up unkillable germs.

      This might not matter for a sanitizer in your home, but it can become a major hazard in hospitals and nursing homes.

      1. Most hospitals and nursing homes use manual, wall mounted dispensers which are just fine.
        And if you absolutely have to have an automated dispenser that doesn’t have a $4 chip that a 25 percent tariff was paid on, Purell has other automated models and other companies make them to.

  7. Meanwhile

    Mexican protesters have shut a US southern border crossing amid fears that untested American travellers will spread coronavirus.

    Residents in Sonora, south of the US state of Arizona, have promised to block traffic into Mexico for a second day after closing a checkpoint for hours on Wednesday.

    They wore face masks and held signs telling Americans to “stay at home”.

    1. See? Until Libertarians replace Republicans, that will be the face of America to the rest of the world. Heck, if the Venezuelans pelting the Nixon convoy with stones had gotten lucky in 1958, JFK would likely be alive today–along with possibly 58,220 other Americans.

      1. I’m OK with the 58,220 Americans but JFK was no great loss. And if he were still alive he’d be 103 years old. No way he’d survive the Coronacircus.

        1. “Coronacircus” +1000

      2. Fuck JFK. He was worse than Nixon.

  8. China cut off the supply of sanitizer completely and you rant about fairly modest tariffs. For fucks sake Boehm.

    1. And it’s just a computer chip for fancy dispensers that got the tariff, not sanitizer.

      1. Yes, that’s what the article above told us, stupid liar!

        1. You’re going to die, sqrlsy

          1. And you’re not? You’re an immortal god or some such? HOW do I join You in Your Esteemed Uber-Lordly-High Status?

          2. With poo on his breath.

            1. Shit eater is obsessed with shit eating.

  9. This has reached comedy level.

  10. God’s Own Prohibitionists are aware that “hand sanitizer” is code for The Demon Rum, possibly laced with fentanyl to make it even stronger. Scientific and medical research proved back in 1913 that alcohol leads to vagrancy, prostitution, syphilis, mental retardation, auto wrecks, liver disease, resisting arrest, economic depressions, unemployment, blue Mondays and Sunday baseball. Republicans aren’t stupid, y’know…

    1. Haha. You have a unique and entertaining approach to this, hank.

  11. Trump Administration Refused To Ease Hand Sanitizer Tariffs

    Looks like you picked a bad day to start jerking off.

  12. Oh so tariffs are the reason, and immigration is why we don’t have doctors (per Shreeky). Got it.

    Or maybe the market decided how much hand sanitizer and physicians we needed. Didn’t account for this Chinese virus.


  13. I would expect this from the New York Times – – – – – – – – – – –

    Another name added to my ‘check the author to see what to skip list’

    1. Eric has joined Shikha on my list of just skip to the comments.

      1. Skip what?

      2. Those two perfectly encapsulate a modified aphorism: An opinion is like an asshole, they both have a stinky one.

      3. Mostly true, but unlike Shikha he does have some libertarian credibility.

  14. Literally Hitler.


  15. Very nearly everything the state does is either vicious or foolish, which is why the state so often appears as a cudgel wielded by clowns. ~ Aaron Ross Powell

    The Trumpy the Clown Show’s plot is flips and flops at near random from idiocracy to autocracy.

    1. Your first mistake is believing Boehm.

  16. Not so fast in pillorying the Orange Head.

    I’ve learned of quite a number of manufacturers which TRIED to step up and crank the stuff out by the boatload, right here in the USA< a d quickly. BUT.. CDC, FDA, myriad other FedGov agencies fauled/refused to grant their royal permission, on the basis their equimpent, methods, ingredients, etc, were not up to some vague level of snuff…. and even if they WERE, the FedGov inspectors who must go and instpect the manufacturing sites were….. on lockdown, and "unavailable' to make those inspections. Government bureaucracy here at home is what has led to the scarcity of this junk. In some cases, those who have the equipment and capability and resources to produce the ethanol were denied, until they've gone through the BATF licensing rituals to make sure they're doing it right…. some already distill alcohol for human consupmtion INSIDE, (distilled spirits of various sorts) but not for "medicinal use", a horse of a whole nuther colour.WHAT!!??!!?? I can DRINK the stuff they prodiuce byt I can't rub it on ny SKIN?


    NO, China's got naught to do with our hand scamitiser supply. Look closer to home… at the FedGov louts in Washington DC.

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  18. Maybe Gojo should rethink the wisdom of locating their manufacturing to China. They made that choice, they may now own the consequence. We have plenty of hand sanitizer here in the US, with more cranking out daily.

    Memo to Gojo: Quit your fucking whining and get cracking on relocating your RFID chip manufacturing. Do something constructive and help solve the problem.

    1. Big government statist libtard.

  19. Hand Sanitizer wasn’t banned from China. And besides this virus spreads via particles in the air after coughing. Leading biochemists who work on this virus strain have said over and over washing your hands isn’t that effective.

    Trump bad…Reason Wokes say

  20. Up to 50% of costs/expenses in healthcare are due to govt regulations and distorting prices in the market. Seriously my grocery store chain was out of everything almost two weeks ago when the horders hit. Went this morning and the only thing in short supply as TP. in fact I’ve never seen the store so full to the gills with meat, veggies, breads, and every packaged thing you could think of. Govt is the primary problem here

    1. Govt is the primary problem here

      Sorry, but you need to get your head out of your derriere. The primary problem here is the Wuhan coronavirus. I don’t think NYC is upset at the fact that FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers built 4 mobile hospitals of 1000+ beds, with 4 more planned (1 in each borough) this week.

      Ever been to the Javits center? The thing is huge. The fact we were able to build a 1000+ bed facility in days is nothing short of miraculous. No other country could do it so quickly and efficiently.

      1. The US government didn’t build anything. What they did was spend money to buy manufactured goods largely from China with money borrowed against the private property of Americans. And the US government could do that because Americans are still somewhat wealthy.

        “We” couldn’t do that if “we” wanted to because most of the skills and facilities don’t exist in the US at scale anymore.

        1. What, what, what…?! = “We” couldn’t do that if “we” wanted to because most of the skills and facilities don’t exist in the US at scale anymore.

          Can you clarify? I am not sure I am following your point.

          1. Most of the stuff that’s in Javits center was manufactured in China. “We” just provided the credit card.

  21. Get ready for even higher tariffs against Chinese made goods.
    The ~Entire World~ is paying the price for depending upon the duplicitous and entirely self serving and damn the costs to the rest of the world Chi-Com government.
    I, along with many other Citizens are implementing an “Anywhere But China” [ABC] policy for ~all~ purchasing going forward. I would rather pay more up front and be [even partially] firewalled against the probability going forward of having to be subjected to Yet Another Round of Chinese Bred Virus.
    The world didn’t learn the lesson it should have learned after the SARS Outbreak, so the lesson is being taught to the world in a harsher manner.

    1. Yeah, after this is over, America needs to reassess their relationship with China. I don’t think China will like the results of that reassessment very much. The fact is, China intentionally lied and obfuscated regarding the nature of the Wuhan coronavirus and those lies and actions have killed Americans. That cannot go unanswered.

      1. We owe China trillions in debt.

        1. We do, Vince. We’ll owe a few trillion more when this is done. Ultimately, it represents leverage.

        2. Even worse for China.

  22. Is Boehm a liar or an ignorant fool? Probably both.

  23. There are still plenty of american distilleries, no pun intended, which couldn’t be too hard to repurpose for “war”time hand sanitizer production. What’s stopping that from happening?

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