China bans consumption and trade of wild animals due to coronavirus
The ban came into place on February 24, 2020, as stipulated by the National People’s Congress in further efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Under the new ban, the illegal trade and consumption of non-aquatic wild animals is subject to severe punishments. Trade in wild animals for non-edible purposes such as fur and scientific and medical research is subject to examination before approval.
For more information, see “China Bans Trade, Consumption of Wild Animals Due to Coronavirus,” February 24, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-health-wildlife/china-bans-trade-consumption-of-wild-animals-due-to-coronavirus-idUSKCN20J069.
China and the U.S. took steps in February to implement the Phase 1 trade agreement
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced in the last week of February that: the U.S. and China had signed the U.S. Chipping Potatoes Protocol Announcement, which will allow for imports of U.S. fresh chipping potatoes to China; the Chinese government had lifted the ban on imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products, including pet food containing poultry products; China had lifted restrictions on imports of U.S. pet food with ruminant ingredients; and the two sides had approved more facilities for exporting animal protein, dairy, infant formula, and tallow from the U.S. to China, revised lists of products that could be exported to China as feed additives, and approved more U.S. seafood species that could be exported to China.
For more information, see “USTR Announces Chinese Measures toward Implementation of Trade Deal,” February 27, 2020, https://agmetalminer.com/2020/02/27/ustr-announces-chinese-measures-toward-implementation-of-trade-deal/.
India Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) ordered 24×7 customs clearance in February
The CBIC issued Instruction 02/2020-Customs on February 20, 2020. It is to be in force until the end of May. Under the order, customs clearance facilities at all seaports, airports, inland container depots, container freight stations, and other customs points must operate around the clock. Customs laboratories are also expected to operate consistently to help clear consignments. The order was made in response to the coronavirus outbreak and aims to tackle any corresponding disruption.
For more information, see “Coronavirus: Govt Orders 24×7 Customs Clearance to Tackle Supply Disruption,” February 21, 2020, https://www.cnbctv18.com/economy/coronavirus-govt-orders-24×7-customs-clearance-to-tackle-supply-disruption-5347661.htm, and “24×7 Customs Clearances to Deal with Supply Issues,” February 21, 2020, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/24×7-customs-clearances-to-deal-with-supply-issues/articleshow/74234365.cms.
India bans export of medical equipment and raw textile materials
The recent changes in trade regulations are part of a continuous effort dating to late January 2020 to ensure domestic supply of necessary items in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The government of India (GoI) first prohibited the export of personal medical equipment, including face masks and coveralls, on January 31, 2020. The GoI then amended this regulation on February 8, 2020, to allow for the export of N95 and 2/3 ply disposable masks and gloves (excluding non-rebreather masks, NBR). The Indian government further expanded the exceptions to include items such as surgical blades and gas masks on February 25, 2020. In another development, the GoI restricted the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients, medicines, vitamins, and formulations on March 3, 2020. On March 19, the GoI restricted the export of N95 masks, 2/3 ply masks, ventilators, and raw textile materials to be used in the creation of protective medical equipment.
For more information, see “Coronavirus: Govt Bans Export of Face Masks, Ventilators,” March 20, 2020, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/coronavirus-govt-bans-export-of-face-masks-ventilators/articleshow/74721306.cms, and https://dgft.gov.in/policies/notifications.
Russia bans export of medical supplies due to coronavirus
The purpose of the ban is to protect Russian citizens during the outbreak of the coronavirus by ensuring adequate domestic supply of the specified items. The ban went into effect on March 2, 2020, and will expire on June 1. The ban applies to 17 different types of medical equipment, including face masks, shoe covers, gloves, scrubs, gas masks, and hazmat suits. The ban will not affect supplies leaving the country for personal use or humanitarian aid.
For more information, see “Russia Bans Export of Masks, Hazmat Suits to Fight Coronavirus,” March 4, 2020, https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/03/04/russia-bans-export-of-masks-hazmat-suits-to-fight-coronavirus-a69516.
Taiwan extends ban on medical grade face masks and relaxes affected products
The government of Taiwan (GOT) originally imposed the ban, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, from January 24 to February 23, 2020. The GOT made changes to the ban in late February and early March. Due to the continued prominence of the virus, the GOT extended the ban until the end of April 2020. On March 12, 2020, the GOT excluded cloth masks without air filters from the ban due to increased production and wider availability. Violators of the ban are subject to a fine of up to three times the value of the confiscated masks.
For more information, see “Thailand and Taiwan Cut Down Exports of Face Masks to Overseas; Singapore Not Issuing Any Ban on the Exports of Face Masks Yet,” February 24, 2020, https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2020/02/24/thailand-and-taiwan-cut-down-exports-of-face-masks-to-overseas-singapore-not-issuing-any-ban-on-the-exports-of-face-masks-yet/, and “Taiwan Relaxes Ban on Face Mask Exports,” March 11, 2020, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3895002.
Thailand prohibits exports of face masks, with limited exceptions
The Department of Internal Trade (DIT), within the Ministry of Commerce, imposed a ban on exports of single use medical grade face masks in February 2020, in order to ensure adequate domestic supply to respond to the coronavirus. There is an exception for personal use. Travelers are allowed to carry 30 masks per trip, or 50 masks per trip if in possession of a medical certificate. Additionally, DIT has allowed exports of face masks that do not comply with local specifications or that are subject to trademark restrictions. The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs may approve exports of large numbers of masks to neighboring countries through government-to-government channels.
For more information, see “Face Mask Export Ban Tightened,” February 21, 2020, https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1862704/face-mask-export-ban-tightened, and “Exports of Surgical Face Masks Now Banned,” February 21, 2020, https://www.thailandtoday.co/21/02/2020/exports-of-surgical-face-
U.S. tightens controls on exports to Russia and Yemen
The U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) made the decision as part of a comprehensive review of the Country Groups in the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). BIS is the U.S. government’s primary licensing agency for dual-use exports. The decision was based on a determination that the Country Group designations for Russia and Yemen should be changed to address U.S. national security and foreign policy concerns, including those related to proliferation. Under the new ruling, Russia was reassigned from Country Groups A:2 and A:4 to the more restrictive Country Groups D:2 and D:4 due to nuclear and missile proliferation concerns. BIS also shifted Yemen from Country Group B to Country Group D:1 based on national security concerns. This means that certain trade license exceptions are no longer available for Russia and Yemen, licenses are now required for those destinations in connection with exports, re-exports, and in-country transfers of certain controlled items, and some transactions may be subject to more stringent licensing review policies or additional prohibitions.
For more information, see “US Tightens Export Controls for Russia, Yemen,” February 25, 2020, https://www.benzinga.com/news/20/02/15399931/us-tightens-export-controls-for-russia-yemen.
United States excludes imports of Chinese face masks and medical gear from tariffs, requests comments regarding removal of tariffs on Chinese medical supplies
The exclusions from the Section 301 tariffs, which were reduced from 15% to 7.5% as part of the U.S.-China Phase I trade agreement on February 15, 2020, were granted by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in early March. The exclusions applied to a wide variety of medical products, including face masks, hand sanitizing wipes, and examination gloves. On March 20, the USTR issued a statement inviting comments from the public, business, and government agencies on the possible removal of duties from imports of additional Chinese medical care products. The comment period will last through June 25, 2020.
For more information, see “U.S. Excludes Chinese Face Masks, Medical Gear from Tariffs as Coronavirus Spreads,” March 6, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-tariffs/u-s-excludes-chinese-face-masks-medical-gear-from-tariffs-as-coronavirus-spreads-idUSKBN20T2ON, and “Trump Officials Seek Public Comment on Removing Tariffs on Medical Supplies from China,” March 21, 2020, https://thehill.com/policy/finance/trade/488799-trump-administration-seeks-public-comment-on-removing-tariffs-on-medical.
Vietnamese government considers plan to simplify customs checks
The Vietnamese government announced in February that it was taking steps to simplify customs controls in order to facilitate trade and reduce costs for business. The Vietnam Ministry of Finance is developing a project that will make local customs departments the principal entities responsible for performing all checks at border crossing points, except for products related to national security, defense, and quarantines. The plan will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will focus on renovating customs checks, while the second phase will focus on the review and amendment of trade laws and regulations and merging of quality control agencies into Customs.
For more information, see “Vietnam to Simplify Customs Checks,” February 21, 2020, https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2020/02/21/vietnam-to-simplify-customs-checks.