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COVID19-related export control measures – has South Africa adopted the same yet?

By Talkmore Chidede
20 Mar 2020
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COVID19-related export control measures – has South Africa adopted the same yet?

The rapid spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID19) has increased demand for and raised concerns about the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) essential to prevent further spreading of the disease. PPE include face shields, protective spectacles, respiratory masks, protective garments, suits and gloves, among others. Due to the increased demand for PPE and concerns about availability, several countries have imposed temporary export bans and/or restrictions on specific PPE. For example, on 15 March 2020, the European Union (EU) adopted Regulation 2020/402, subjecting the export of specific PPE (whether originating in the EU or elsewhere) to an export authorisation. This is a temporary measure to prevent or remedy critical situations arising from shortages of essential products (pursuant to Article 5 of Regulation 2015/479) and is line with the WTO public health exceptions. Turkey, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Kazakhstan, India, Russia, and the Czech Republic has also imposed temporary export restrictions on PPE including masks, goggles, and sterile gloves. Some governments may have taken the same actions on a more informal basis.

Thus far, South Africa has not adopted similar actions; neither are aware of any ongoing process of adopting the measures banning or restricting PPEs exports to any country. The government gazette does not include any such measures. Even the South African Revenue Service has not provided any information related to such measures (as at 19 March 2020). South Africa produces most of the PPE listed in Annex 1 to the Regulation 2020/402 and exports to the EU and world at large. In 2019, South Africa’s exports of specific PPE products to the EU amounted to US$868 thousand, and US$6.7 million to the world (see Table 1).

Table 1: South Africa’s exports of specific PPE products to the EU and world in 2019

HS Code
Product Label
EU exports US$
World exports
US$
392620
Gloves (apparel and clothing accessories)
405 000
6 079 000
90200000
Breathing appliances and gas masks
382 00
7 038 000
6114
Knitted or crocheted special garments
for professional, sporting, n.e.s
142 000
7 184 00
40151100
Surgical gloves, of vulcanised rubber
(excluding fingerstalls)
69 000
2 694 000
621139
Male tracksuits and other garments, n.e.s. of textile materials
64 000
2 479 000
62113310
Male tracksuits and other garments, n.e.s. of man-made fibres
43 000
241 000
62113390
Male tracksuits and other garments, n.e.s. of man-made fibres
42 000
1 376 000
62160000
Gloves, mittens and mitts, of all types of textile materials
31 000
606 000
62113210
Male tracksuits and other garments, n.e.s. of cotton
23 000
752 000
611300
Knitted or crocheted garments rubberised with plastics or other materials
14 000
512 000
62113290
Male tracksuits and other garments, n.e.s. of cotton (excluding knitted or crocheted):
12 000
1 805 000
62103000
Garments of the type described in subheading 6202,11 to 6202,19 rubberised with plastics or other materials
9 000
320 000
621149
Female tracksuits and other garments, n.e.s. of textile materials
4 000
830 000
40159000
Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, for all purposes, of vulcanised rubber (excluding hard rubber, footwear and headgear and gloves, mittens and mitts)
3 000
1 114 000
62114290
Female tracksuits and other garments, n.e.s. of cotton
3 000
689 000
62105000
Female garments of textile fabrics, rubberised with plastics
2 000
212 000
62102000
Garments of the type described in subheading 6201,11 to 6201,19, rubberised with plastic
1 000
60 000
621040
Male garments of textile fabrics, rubberised with plastics
1 000
840 000
Total
 
868 000
6 655 000

The PPE export bans and/or controls are essential to meet the domestic demand for medical protective gear and might equally have enormous substantial fatal outcomes in high-risk countries with low or no PPE productive capacity and largely dependent on the import of such products. Further, countries imposing (or considering) PPE export restrictions must adopt exceptions to allow the export of such products to high-risk and import dependent countries with low productive capacity. PPE production is concentrated in a few countries across the world and the current production is insufficient to meet the global demand. PPE production should be enhanced or urged.

About the Author(s)

Talkmore Chidede

Talkmore Chidede

Talkmore Chidede holds a Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree in International Investment Law from the University of the Western Cape. Talkmore also holds a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree (Cum Laude) in International Trade and Investment Law and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree, both from the University of Fort Hare. His research interests include international investment law, international trade law, regional economic integration and international commercial arbitration.

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