Trump Denies Tariff Relief For Sanitizer During Pandemic

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The economy has fallen off a cliff as a global pandemic forces people to stay at home to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus, but Trump's trade war is still ongoing even now and his trade representative just denied tariff relief for a company that makes hand sanitizer.

The office of Trump's trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, denied a request from the parent company of the Purell brand which uses inputs from China to manufacture their bottles in the United States.

Defending the decision in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, Lighthizer wrote thatmaking own medical supplies is vital to national security.

The U.S. Trade Representative denied Gojo’s request earlier this month, saying the company failed to show that the duties “would cause severe economic harm to you or other U.S. interests,” according to USTR General Counsel Joseph Barloon’s letter on March 5. [...]

Publicly, American officials have doubled down on their tariff strategy and are calling for a rethink of supply chains, especially when it comes to key medical products.

The reliance on other countries for those supplies has created a strategic vulnerability for the U.S., trade chief Robert Lighthizer said. “By encouraging diversification of supply chains and — better yet — more manufacturing in the U.S., President Trump’s economic and trade policies are helping to overcome that vulnerability,” he wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial last week.

Ideology can be a very dangerous thing and this is one reason why when someone asks me what my politics are, I make it clear that I'm not an ideologue even if I do consider myself liberal.

I'm not necessarily going to argue that manufacturing more of our own supplies wouldn't bolster national security, but the middle of a pandemic is not the time to be waging this kind of ideological battle. This is not the time to implement "Trump’s economic and trade policies" which have been poorly thought out even during the best of times.

A global pandemic demands a global response, but the ideologues who advise Trump evidently believe now is as good of a time as ever -- perhaps even the best time -- for protectionism.

It's impossible to say how many additional people will get sick or die because of Trump's trade war, but I'm pretty sure the number won't be zero.

  • Christopher Foxx

    It’s impossible to say how many additional people will get sick or die because of Trump’s trade war, but I’m pretty sure the number won’t be zero.

    I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of zeroes in it.

  • katanahamon

    What was the saying..that Rump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it? Well..he’s getting away with it. Denying ventilators, accusing hospital staff of hoarding and stealing basic medical supplies, and the right wing literally saying we should die to prop up the economy. This has to be the most ludicrous moment in our history. I saw some interesting stats the other day..the wealthiest ten percent control eighty percent of the stock market. Yeah..ninety percent of us need to sacrifice even more for the richest ten. I don’t think so. When are we going to demand truth in broadcasting, and eliminate the propaganda of Fox and the right wing? Will these lies that are responsible for killing us ever be attributed to Rump and his ilk? Will we just watch as once again public monies are used to bail out criminal corporations? Arg..just..aaaaaarGGH!

  • muselet

    The reliance on other countries for those supplies has created a strategic vulnerability for the U.S., trade chief Robert Lighthizer said.


    A more sensible—dare i say “mature”—view would be that having countries mutually dependent eases trade tensions. That’s (part of) the post-WWII consensus fools like Donald Trump and Robert Lighthizer are so very enthusiastic about destroying.

    Precursors of pharmaceuticals or plastics for bottles can’t be magicked into existence. China currently supplies a large percentage of those products and an alternative supply doesn’t really exist; whether or not that’s acceptable depends on whether one expects China to act irrationally. Regardless, this is exactly the wrong time to pick this fight.

    After the Covid-19 pandemic is under control, sure, let’s consider sources and supply chains for vitally-important chemicals. For now, the Trump administration is engaging in a pointless and dangerous game of dick-swinging.