PoliticsForeign Policy


U.S. Urges China To Lift Restrictions On Medical Exports

U.S. officials and medical goods suppliers are urging China to lift restrictions on exports, which have reportedly caused shipments to be delayed.
Posted at 1:21 PM, Apr 17, 2020

The U.S. is urging China to revise new export restrictions on medical supplies and equipment needed to fight the coronavirus, including face masks and test kits. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday the restrictions have resulted in "large quantities" of medical goods bound for the U.S. to be stuck in warehouses across China. 

Beijing tightened regulations last week following complaints it had sent faulty goods to several European countries, and officials say the new measures are to ensure quality. But memos issued by U.S. suppliers and the State Department argue they've created a logjam at a time when "products were most needed for the global response to COVID-19."

For example, Illinois' Deputy Governor was reportedly told to expect shipment delays of more than a week. On Wednesday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the surge in demand for medical supplies has caused a "big challenge for China’s efforts of quality control and regulation of export."

Some estimates suggest more than 40% of the world's imports of medical gear and supplies are manufactured in China, and the country has ramped up production in recent weeks as cases of infection around the globe continued to climb.

Still, the delays come at a time when U.S.-China relations are especially strained. The two countries continue to blame each other over their respective responses to the outbreak. However, China is reportedly working with U.S. officials and suppliers to reduce the backlog.