NZ to temporarily remove tariffs on all medical, hygiene imports amid coronavirus pandemic

Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports in a worldwide response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A file image a of a nurse in a negative pressure room - used for isolating patients with infectious diseases like COVID-19.

The New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing kits used for coronavirus testing and soap imports in the first instance, Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi announced today in a statement.

Officials are currently in the process of identifying other medical and hygiene products needed for the response, and further tariff concessions are expected to follow shortly.

“There is increased global demand for these medical and hygiene products and some countries are restricting their exports of them. We want to make sure that New Zealand has the most straightforward and cost effective access possible to the supply of the goods needed to respond to Covid-19,” Mr Faafoi said.

“Even though New Zealand already has low tariffs overall, and a significant proportion of our imports are tariff-free thanks to our free trade agreements, some imported products required for the Covid-19 response remain subject to tariffs. Removing tariffs on these products will reduce their cost of imports and facilitate access to them from the widest possible range of overseas suppliers.”

Mr Parker said it was imperative that trade in vital goods, such as medical supplies and food, continued to flow freely during the pandemic.

It comes as New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar recently announced their shared commitment to keep their trade and supply chains open.

“We believe that global cooperation on trade can enable a better response to this global health crisis. We are encouraging other countries to join us in this commitment as soon as possible,” Mr Parker said

“Removing tariffs on relevant products and spending $600 million of the more than $25 billion Covid-19 support package to keep air freight moving gives effect to this commitment. We are also actively exploring other initiatives with our trading partners to keep trade flowing.”