Free Trade

Trump's Tariffs Are Still Slowing America's Coronavirus Response

General Motors is being charged import taxes on parts it needs to build ventilators. Its requests for relief have gone unanswered.


The Trump administration's tariffs will make it more expensive and difficult for General Motors to import the parts to build 30,000 critically needed ventilators for American hospitals.

In a deal struck last week, the federal government will pay GM $489 million to manufacture 30,000 ventilators in partnership with Ventec, a medical device maker. Ventec will provide the designs and GM the manufacturing muscle; the first shipment of 6,000 ventilators is expected to be ready by later this month.

But the anti-China tariffs have already emerged as a complicating factor.

"To meet the needs of the U.S. government, U.S. medical professionals, and U.S. patients in this time of crisis, GM is drawing upon its established global network of suppliers and its supply chain expertise to secure these critical components," Craig B. Glidden, general counsel for General Motors, wrote to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on March 31, shortly after the company and the administration had begun discussing plans to manufacture more ventilators.

Building a ventilator is complicated. More than 700 components are needed to assemble one, Glidden wrote, and GM would have to draw upon "established suppliers" in China to provide some of those parts.

The administration's China tariffs, Glidden wrote, could "impede the ability of GM and other U.S. manufacturers to source parts for critical care ventilators quickly, reliably, and at as reasonable a cost as possible."

In mid-March, the administration quietly took action to lift tariffs on medical devices and equipment imported from China. As part of that process, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative opened a special docket on March 20 to let American companies seek relief from other tariffs in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. The public comment period runs through June 25.

General Motors is one of dozens of companies to have submitted requests. The Wall Street Journal reports that the list of requests comes from a wide range of businesses who say "tariffs are hitting chemicals, equipment, parts for devices and other items needed in the fight against coronavirus, but which may not be readily identifiable as medically related." GoPro, for example, says its camera equipment can be used to teach doctors how to use ventilators. Energizer Holdings Inc. says its batteries are needed to power medical devices.

The rationale for the tariffs has been to encourage manufacturers to move out of China and bring jobs back to the United States. "If we made it here, we wouldn't be faced with this," Peter Navarro, Trump's top trade advisor and a longtime China hawk, told 60 Minutes last night when asked about ventilator shortages.

But the tariffs haven't been a boon for American manufacturing. And even if they were capable of redirecting global trade on a larger scale, self-sufficiency wouldn't necessarily be desirable. Diverse supply chains based in a variety of places around the world are more stable and resilient.

"Self-sufficiency is not an option for any country. It's not an option even for any continent," Sabine Weyand, the European Commission's director-general for trade, said last week.

And the time to play games with global trade flows is certainly not in the middle of a pandemic. In a request for tariff exemptions, Home Depot points out that companies cannot quickly identify new sources of products like thermometers, which are suddenly in high demand in America and around the world.

"Under the current health crisis, the protracted time period needed to identify and fully vet a new non-Chinese supplier would serve to undermine U.S. interests and impose an additional burden on the health care system by delaying access to supplies needed to treat and reduce the spread of COVID-19," notes Home Depot's request. "The additional costs associated with applying a tariff…would cause an increase in cost throughout the supply chain."

When it comes to making ventilators, General Motors' request identifies a number of industrial components that the company should be exempted from tariffs, including certain types of gaskets, filters, and compressor silencers.

It should be obvious that the response to a public health emergency will require goods that aren't, strictly speaking, medical equipment. But then, it should be obvious that tariffs are a poor way to redirect global trade, since they mostly punish American importers, businesses, and consumers.

On both counts, the administration's trade policy has been a disaster. President Donald Trump's tariffs probably reduced the ability of hospitals and other medical providers to stock up on crucial gear before the coronavirus pandemic. When those trade barriers were imposed in 2018, medical professionals warned the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative that the levies were counterproductive and would harm America's preparedness for a public health crisis.

The administration waited until mid-March to lift those tariffs. As GM's (and other companies') exemption requests demonstrate, cutting tariffs for medical gear doesn't go nearly far enough to help American companies respond effectively to the pandemic.

The president is finally getting a serious lesson in the costs of his tariff regime. His response has been too little, and too late.

NEXT: Trump Campaign Sues TV Station for Running 'Defamatory' Coronavirus Attack Ad

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  1. I’ll bet that none of those ventilators are ever needed. By the time they are ready to ship, hospitals won’t need the extras. The real question is, what will the government do with the surplus?

    * Ship them as foreign aid

    * Dump them in the ocean

    * Stockpile them somewhere secret

      1. I believe you are a big time hoax. People are dropping dead from this. My daughter is a PA in a hospital and this thing is really serious. You must have your head up your arse.

        It should be made illegal for governments to develop bio weapons. They actually kill more hundreds of thousands of people during peace times, unarmed innocent civilians, than soldiers in actual war. The corona virus is a derivative of the SARS virus, developed in US Bio weapons labs.

        1. Cool story bro. You pitching that to Hollywood? Throw Trump’s name in as the villain and it might sell.

    1. That’s a pretty fancy workstation he’s got there. Love the ratty cardboard.

  2. For someone who cries incessantly about the misallocation of resources and economic inefficiency, Boehm seems to have no misgivings about fomenting a panic in order to spur the mass production of shit people don’t actually need.

    1. Put your money where your mouth is and come to visit a New York city hospital…if you dare.

      1. I live in NYC. My family is full of healthcare workers. Had COVID and got over it, as did several of them. No horror stories; no shortage of ventilators.

        Any more stupid dares?

        1. That’s gonna leave a mark.

  3. We are living a fearful lives now … Life few months ago was so beautiful .. All this because of chinese virus ….

    1. Not a Chinese virus. It’s worldwide now. If you hadn’t noticed. And it didn’t come here via China, it came here via Europe. And if it didn’t come here via Europe it would have come here some other way. Because it’s a worldwide pandemic. Short of a fucking twelve foot wall around the entire country (which the rest of the world would pay for), eventually someone will come back into this country from overseas. It only takes one case and it spreads from there. Odds are the spread started back in December and no one noticed.

      Do you really intend to erect a plastic bubble around the entire nation? Really?

      1. “Not a Chinese virus. It’s worldwide now”

        Which of course doesn’t mean it isn’t a Chinese virus, because of course it is. You’re trying to pretend the two things are related.

        Pit Bull is Mr. Worldwide but that doesn’t stop anyone from rightly blaming Miami.

        1. Tulpa-shit has been trolled worldwide, but we’re supposed to turn a blind eye to the fact that Tulpa-shit-trolling cums from Mary-Tulpa-Satan…

          1. Hi Drake still crying I see Lololo i knew Brandybuck was one of yours ahahaahah. Look how upset you are drama llama ahahahahah

      2. This is one of the biggest hoaxes/scams ever perpetrated upon mankind by the hordes of darkness!…It is simply a deep chest cold! 98% of people who get it do not need to go to a hospital & recover easily! The ones dying are either at death’s door already or are in horrible shape with underlying conditions! The shutdown of every thing is so the Medical-Big Pharma-Govt. Complex can now take over our lives & get closer to their sick vision of a One-World Govt. & make no mistake, if it ever happens, it will be run just like China is run now!

      3. Odds are it did start in Wuhan, but some claim the US military sports team was visiting there previous to it starting. So speculate the US is in an economic war with China and as they say…everything is fair in love and war.
        The Corona virus is a derivative of the SARS which people acknowledge was developed in the US military bio weapons lab. The Corona idea was to make the SARS virus even more deadly.
        The real problem is governments experimenting with bio weapons. It should be made illegal. Here Trump the Chump is pointing the finger at Iran, accusing them of being global terrorist, when it is actually a virus, a dirivitive of bio weapon experiments, that is killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people around the globe.

        1. people acknowledge was developed in the US …..
          What powerful argument.

  4. This ought to be fun.

  5. But I thought Trump had invoked the Defense Production Act to order GM to pull ventilators straight out of their ass, what’s with the whining about supply chains? Maybe Trump should have ordered Little Caesar’s Pizza to produce the ventilators, they’d have been done in 30 minutes and only cost $5.99.

  6. Here come the cultists to defend the dear leader..

    Ventilators could’ve been made and stockpiled for any future epidemic starting day 1 of Trump’s admin but they weren’t. He’s still too busy blaming anybody else.

    “I don’t take responsibility at all.” – Trump.

    Simply the most embarrassing president in quite some time.

    1. Oh- and all his lackeys- sheesh. Even more embarrassing than him, as unbelievable as that sounds.

      1. There’s more demand for black rubber dildos than there is for ventilators.

        1. Not all households are like yours.

          1. Ugh you’re into fleshtone

            1. Tulpa-Mary is into vaginal-yeast-infection-toned dildos so that no one will notice her infection, upon inspection, detection, and neglection, so there is that… And Mary-Tulpa DETESTS neglection! Hence her obsession on constantly seeking negative attention by incessant moronic trolling! Bad attention is better than being ignored, right, Mary/Mary’s-Period/”.”/Satan? Better to troll, than to be ignored, right?

              1. Hey man you said you eat your own shit you own kinky.

              2. Trolls talk shit because they are literally too intellectually impaired to discuss ANYTHING else! Need evidence? See Tulpa!

                1. Ahahahah


              3. Ahahahahahaah drama llama can’t stop bringing up shit Ahahahaha he said he eats it ahahahahahaha

              4. $parcasmic, a love connection, connects to NOTHING other than its own vain, barfcissisticly overWHELMing ego!!!


                (Stooping now so low to Tulpa-Troll’s stupid level)

                1. AHAHAHAHHAHAHAAH


                  1. “Dear Abby” is a personal friend of mine. She gets some VERY strange letters! For my amusement, she forwards some of them to me from time to time. Here is a relevant one:

                    Dear Abby, Dear Abby,
                    My life is a mess,
                    Even Bill Clinton won’t stain my dress,
                    I whinny seductively for the horses,
                    They tell me my picnic is short a few courses,
                    My real name is Mary Stack,
                    NO ONE wants my hairy crack!
                    On disability, I live all alone,
                    Spend desperate nights by the phone,
                    I found a man named Richard Decker,
                    But he won’t give me his hairy pecker!
                    Decker’s pecker is reserved for farm beasts,
                    I am beastly, yes! But my crack’s full of yeasts!

                    So Dear Abby, that’s just a poetic summary… You can read about the Love of my Life, Richard Decker, here:
                    Farmers kept refusing to let him have sex with their animals. So he sought revenge, authorities say.
                    Decker the hairy pecker told me a summary of his story as below:
                    Decker: “Can I have sex with your horse?”
                    Farmer: “Lemme go ask the horse.”
                    Farmer: “My horse says ‘neigh’!”
                    And THAT was straight from the horse’s mouth! I’m not horsin’ around, here, no mare!

                    So Decker the hairy pecker told me that, apparently never even realizing just HOW DEEPLY it hurt me, that he was all interested in farm beasts, while totally ignoring MEEE!!

                    So I thought maybe I could at least liven up my lonely-heart social life, by refining my common interests that I share with Richard Decker… I, too, like to have sex with horses!

                    But Dear Abby, the horses ALL keep on saying “neigh” to my whinnying sexual advances!
                    Some tell me that my whinnying is too whiny… Abby, I don’t know how to fix it!

                    Dear Abby, please don’t tell me “get therapy”… I can’t afford it on my disability check!

                    Now, along with my crack full of yeasts… I am developing anorexia! Some are calling me a “quarter pounder with cheese”, but they are NOT interested at ALL, in eating me!!! They will NOT snack on my crack!

                    What will I DO, Dear Abby?!?!?

                    -Desperately Seeking Horses, Men, or ANYTHING, in Fort Worth,
                    Yours Truly,
                    Mary Stack / Tulpa / Mary’s Period / “.” / Satan


    2. Well at least since the last president.

  7. Typical government ordering the wrong thing and then fucking up the paperwork to even if it were the right thing, it would arrive far too late.

  8. What a one trick pony Boehm is.

  9. The Greatest Good is that foreign goods dont’ enter this country. Better that 50,000 die than one Chinese toy come into the country.

    That’s how some of these people think. A close relative of mine was hyperventilating about how *legal* immigrants were still in this country during the crisis. LEGAL IMMIGRANTS. She couldn’t understand why they weren’t all immediately deported. Sigh.

    1. Well, you’re too stupid to understand how something can originate in a place while also becoming widely distributed sooo…yeah.

      1. Well, you’re too stupid to understand that readers here can understand that you are NOTHING other than an intellectual black hole, and a vile troll to boot, so there is that…

        Have you gotten anyone vaguely medically competent to look at your yeast infection yet? I think that it might have metastasized to your so-called brain!

        1. AHAHAHAHAH i knew brandybuck was one of yours shit eater

          I guess youre still superbutthurt about being proven a liar ahahahahha

  10. And your open borders are still responsible for most of the deaths.

    Hey, where’s Shikha these days?

    Good job, Reason.

  11. “Diverse supply chains based in a variety of places around the world are more stable and resilient.”

    Talk about a failure to learn from experience. No, supply chains deliberately spread across the globe aren’t more stable and resilient. As soon as something like this comes along, you suddenly find that the parts of your supply chain that are overseas are being reserved for local use, or shut down by a pandemic. And that’s not taking into account the possibility of a war, where you may find that parts of your supply chain are located in enemy nations, or reliant on shipping that gets shut down.

    Globalization is more efficient, when it works well, but stable and resilient is exactly what globalization ISN’T. Efficiency and resiliency are diametrically opposed goals, you build resiliency by having inefficient redundancies.

    The truth is, unlike a lot of countries, the US is large enough to be pretty much self-sufficient, if that’s considered a desirable goal. There’s hardly any natural resource you can’t find in US territory, and our population is large enough to have a critical mass of people specializing in everything.

    For smaller countries, globalization is unavoidable. For the US, it’s a choice, and it’s a risky choice.

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