The Vision Council’s Latest Update on China Duties

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Previously, The Vision Council reported that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) had published its intent to subject certain merchandise of Chinese origin to an additional 25 percent customs duty when imported into the U.S. After a short review period, the list of tariff numbers was modified and finalized. The tariff will become operational for goods entering the U.S. on and after July 6, 2018.

While $34 billion worth of merchandise will be affected, eyeglasses, optical frames, lenses, plano sunglasses, reading glasses, magnifiers, safety eyewear, telescopes and parts of these medical devices remain off the list.

However, the tariff numbers associated with certain optical manufacturing machines, ophthalmic instruments and electro-diagnostic equipment made the final list, including the tariff numbers for lens meters, tonometers, ophthalmonometers, slit lamp microscopes, retinal cameras, and optical lens grinding and polishing machinery.

In days to come, the list of tariff numbers subject to these “China Duties” is likely to grow. A second list has been circulated, and President Donald Trump states he will take steps to impose the 25 percent tariff on these additional tariff numbers if China retaliates against U.S. goods. Again, The Vision Council’s members are not impacted by this second proposed list, as core optical products remain free of these duties. This is a proposed list subject to revision, including adding new tariff numbers, and as drafted, covers approximately $16 billion in merchandise.

Notwithstanding the administration’s planned and proposed actions, President Trump has stated his intent to increase the China Duties a third time, to cover an additional $200 billion of imported goods of Chinese origin, albeit at the lower 10 percent duty rate. No tariff numbers have been identified yet for this third list, but if affected tariff numbers continue to increase, at some point The Vision Council’s members’ core products from China are likely to be targeted.

The Vision Council will continue to monitor this issue and advise the membership of changes that may impact their business. Any questions about this issue can be directed to Rick Van Arnam, The Vision Council’s regulatory counsel, at rvanarnam@barnesrichardson.com.

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