CTA asks the US government for tariff exemptions on robotics, drones and 3D printers

Brian Heater

The Consumer Technology Association penned an open letter alongside a number of other industry representatives asking the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office to loosen tariffs on a number of tech categories manufactured in China.

The parties seek to widen current COVID-19-related exemptions beyond health products like ventilators and oxygen masks. The list includes wide-ranging categories that serve important peripheral functions for front-line responders.

“These tariffs are not only a barrier to the entry of necessary products, they are a tax on businesses and consumers that has become ever more harmful as many enter ‘survival mode,’ ” according to the letter provided to Reuters.

The letter cites robotics, 3D printers, drones, personal computers and a number of different accessories, including monitors, printers and ink, citing medical professionals’ need for such material. A number of tech companies have pivoted to producing supplies amid the pandemic, from car makers manufacturing ventilators to apparel companies creating masks to 3D-printing startups manufacturing parts.

Also in the letter are elevator and escalator parts (per The National Elevator Industry, naturally) and various cleaning and disinfecting supplies (via The American Chemistry Council). Other categories include masks, networking equipment, hand sanitizer and hand dryers. 

How have tariffs impacted robotics?


The USTR has yet to issue an official response to exemptions for products “relevant to the medical response to the coronavirus.” The CTA has been a vocal critic of Trump administration tariffs for some time. Last January, the association's president, Gary Shapiro, told TechCrunch, “The cost of the current tariffs remains an issue, and the uncertainty of potentially more tariffs combined with export controls is a real threat to our global leadership 5G, artificial intelligence and robotics."