Trump Denies Tariff Relief For Sanitizer During Pandemic

SK Ashby
Written by SK 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.