China supplied 95% of US imports of N95 respirators in July-September 2020 (1.6 billion units), according to data from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC).
Meanwhile, Mexico was the second largest source, supplying 4% of imports (63 million units).
US imports of N95 respirators are subject to a normal trade tariff (NTR) rate of 7%; these products are excluded from section 301 tariffs on imports from China.
Top foreign suppliers to the US market in 2019 included companies such as Makrite Industries, Jinfuyu Industrial, Shanghai Masco Nonwoven Products, Aswan International, and AOK Tooling.
All of these companies supplied the US market in 2020. The same was true for large numbers of new entrants and substantial imports from 3M plants outside of the United States.
As of June 2020, only about 10 foreign companies had received FDA and NIOSH clearance for N95 surgical respirators for the US market.
Although imports of unapproved respirators from other companies were allowed under the Emergency Use Authorizations (USA) implemented by the FDA.
China was the top source of respirator imports before the pandemic, supplied more than 80% of ocean freight imports in 2019, and remains the top source of US imports in 2020.
In addition to ocean freight, starting in March 2020 there was a significant increase in the use of air freight to accelerate imports of respirators and other products included in the broader HTS groupings that include respirators.
It is not possible to break down the precise number of imported respirators in this data before July 2020.
Furthermore, given that the demand for surgical masks increased dramatically during this time, it is unclear what proportion of these imports were respirators compared to other products.
In August 2020, when expedited shipping became less critical, the primary shipping method reverted to ocean freight.
US Imports of N95 Respirators, by Country, July-September 2020 (in Millions of Respirators)
The new HTS breakdown introduced in July 2020 allows a clearer picture of US import trends in N95 respirators.
Specifically, U.S. imports of N95 respirators in July 2020 totaled 620 million respirators ($ 1.1 billion), falling to 469 million respirators ($ 798 million) in August and then rebounding to 555 million respirators ($ 828 million). dollars) in September 2020.
Imports of other types of respirators totaled 89 million ($ 46.9 million) in July, 138 million ($ 78.5 million) in August and 75 million ($ 29 million) in September.
US Imports of Respirators (including N95 and KN95) by Ocean Freight, January 2019 to September 2020 (in thousands of metric tons)