In December 2015, over 50 countries agreed over an amendment to the World Trade Organization’s “Information Technology Agreement”. The amendment was subsequently ratified in China by the Ministry of Finance in September 2016, and allowed China to cut import tariffs on 201 technology products, including 30 types of medical devices. According to BMI Research, these categories include electodiagnostic apparatuses, pacemakers, stents, radiology apparatuses, ophthalmic instruments, blood pressure monitors, endoscopes, dialysis apparatuses, blood transfusion apparatuses, and anesthetic apparatuses. China recognizes 70 medical device product groups, so tariff cuts on 30 device groups represents a relatively large portion of the Chinese medical device market.
For the 30 device groups, the tariffs on medical devices will be cut from 4% to 3.3%, though tariffs will remain at 4% for MRI apparatuses, CT scanners, and some other devices. The China ministry stated online that they aim to reduce import tariffs for most devices to 0% within 3-5 years, while a handful of products will have a longer reduction period of 7 years. Recently, import growth into the Chinese medical device market has significantly slowed down. Earlier in 2016, Chinese policies heavily favored domestic devices over imports. However, officials hope that lower costs due to these new tariff cuts will boost competitiveness and foster innovation in the market.