Covid19 Update: The impact on import, export, and other customs


Today we bring you a round-up of the main customs-related news items we came across recently when it comes to coronavirus.

Germany Gives Company Temporary Financial Relief

The German government is allowing companies that are affected by the corona crisis to defer their taxes, without charging interest.

Under the support measures, businesses unable to pay their taxes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic can apply for temporary, interest-free deferrals of these payments. This measure applies to income tax, corporation tax and value-added tax.

While taxpayers will need to explain to the tax authorities that they have been directly affected by the virus, they will not need to document this in detail when requesting a deferral. Businesses can file applications with their respective tax offices until December 31, 2020.

EU, UK, and US Wave Tariffs, VAT, and Antitrust Measures on Medical Supplies

The European Union is suspending tariffs and value-added tax on Medical Supplies.

The relief will apply across the European Union retroactively and cover a range of essential medical products such as protective masks and clothing. The move comes after several EU governments asked the commission to authorize the suspension of tariffs and VAT at the national level in response to the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.

When the medical items are not coming from outside the EU, governments could temporarily allow hospitals to defer VAT on them to a later date, and at the same time suppliers should be able to deduct the VAT to mitigate any cash flow problems…

Read the full article here.

The United Kingdom has waived import taxes on medical equipment like testing kits, medical equipment and protective gear. 

“Waiving import taxes on vital medical equipment such as ventilators will speed up and increase the supply of critical items going to our frontline health workers,”...

The import duty changes came into effect on Friday but were only announced on Tuesday. The finance ministry said they would make Britain more attractive to companies who want to produce or donate equipment.

Read the full article here.

The United States is not invoking antitrust measures against a group of logistics companies working together to deliver medical supplies to virus hot spots.

“These medical supplies distributors should be applauded for their efforts to both assist the United States in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay within the bounds of antitrust law,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim in a statement.

The medical supplies distribution collaboration is part of an emergency response plan initiated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department in late March to rapidly address a national shortage of protective medical gear, such as face masks, gowns and gloves, as well as medicines, for hospitals dealing with highly contagious coronavirus patients.

Read more about what these and other companies are doing to help those affected by the coronavirus in the full article here.

Trump Encourages Import But Tries to Stop Exports of Relief Supplies

The United States is ordering and receiving tons of medical supplies and is distributing those to healthcare workers that are in desperate need for them.

On the other side, President Trump is trying to block companies producing medical devices like ventilators from exporting them from the United States, claiming that America should come first.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis-based 3M is resisting pressure from the White House to stop exporting medical-grade masks to Canada and Latin America. 

In the past few weeks, the company has significantly ramped up production of N95 respirators on its own, but the White House invoked a wartime law on April 2 to require 3M to prioritize orders from FEMA. The Defense Production Act gives the federal government the power to dictate production and delivery schedules for private companies.

At the same time the White House wants to accelerate exports from other nations to the U.S., it is trying to keep U.S. companies from exporting supplies to other countries that are also dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full article here.

Coronavirus and Brexit

Boris Johnson was taken to the ICU on Monday night when the effects of his coronavirus infection were getting more serious. There has not been much news on how he is doing. In the meantime, he appointed Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Dominic Raab as his temporary replacement.

On Johnson's current health state the Guardian is reporting:

Boris Johnson remains in intensive care but his condition is improving and he is sitting up in his hospital bed, the chancellor has said.

Rishi Sunak said the prime minister was “engaging positively” with medical staff as he gave an update on Johnson’s condition at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

He said Johnson was receiving “excellent care”, adding: “The latest from the hospital is the prime minister remains in intensive care where his condition is improving.

“I can also tell you that he has been sitting up in bed and engaging positively with the clinical team.

No 10 has been receiving medical updates from doctors at St Thomas’ but Johnson is now not doing any work at all. He was working on his red box of government papers even after being admitted to hospital, up until when he was admitted to intensive care.

Johnson’s spokesman said he was able to be in contact with No 10 if necessary. However, he has not spoken to Dominic Raab, who is deputising for him, since going into hospital.

Read the full article here.

As of yet, there are still no changes to the Brexit timeline. Prime Minister Johnson is still set on December 31st 2020 as the end date for the transition period.

Be in the Know

For updates on coronavirus and the impact on customs, import, and export follow our Corona Update page.

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash