House Republicans Push for Higher Tariffs on Chinese-Made Drones

Estimated read time 3 min read

House Republicans introduced legislation to significantly increase tariffs on Chinese-made drones and ban imports of drones with critical Chinese components by 2030. The bill aims to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. drone manufacturers and includes a grant program to support domestic purchases, reports Reuters.

Tariff Increases and Import Bans

A new legislative proposal led by Representative Elise Stefanik seeks to impose a 30% tariff on Chinese-made drones, with an annual 5% increase thereafter. The goal is to phase out the use of drones containing critical Chinese components by 2030. House China Committee select chair John Moolennar co-sponsors the bill.

Grant Program for U.S. Drone Purchases

The legislation also includes a grant program designed to assist First Responders, critical infrastructure providers, and farmers in purchasing U.S.-made drones.

Stefanik emphasized that this initiative would level the playing field for American drone manufacturers, stating it will “increase the competitiveness of U.S. drone manufacturers by establishing a revenue-neutral grant program to help Americans purchase drones securely made by the U.S. and our allies.”

Call for Immediate Action

This proposal follows a March call from a bipartisan group of lawmakers urging the Biden administration to increase tariffs on Chinese drones and promote U.S. drone manufacturing. Lawmakers argued that the current 25% tariff is inadequate to curb the influx of Chinese drones, which dominate both the hobby and commercial markets in the U.S.

Market Dominance of Chinese Drones

Chinese companies, including DJI and Autel, control over 77% of the U.S. hobby drone market and more than 90% of the commercial drone sector. In response to these concerns, DJI has stated its opposition to restrictions based on country of origin, asserting that it complies with all applicable data privacy protection laws in the U.S.

Previous Legislative Efforts

In November, lawmakers asked the Biden administration to investigate and possibly sanction Autel Robotics, pushing for a ban on U.S. Government purchases of Chinese drones. Congress had already prohibited the Pentagon from using Chinese-made drones and components in 2019.

Aviation Legislation and Exemptions

New aviation legislation, expected to be approved soon, will prevent the Transportation Department from buying or offering grants for Chinese-made drones. However, it includes exemptions and waivers for limited situations.

DroneXL’s Take

This move by House Republicans to boost tariffs and limit Chinese-made drones reflects growing concerns about national security and economic competitiveness. By encouraging the use of U.S.-made drones, the legislation aims to reduce reliance on foreign technology and support domestic industries. As the drone market continues to expand, this initiative could pave the way for increased innovation and investment in American drone manufacturing, ensuring that the U.S. remains a key player in this critical sector.

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