The Chancellor said NHS suppliers will no longer have to pay customs duty and import VAT on specified medical items coming from outside the EU, including coronavirus testing kits and protective clothing. The Treasury said that under the EU’s disaster relief regulation, equipment needed to combat the Covid-19 epidemic can be imported tariff-free. Mr Sunak said removing the charges, which can account for up to 12 per cent of the price of the items, was part of the “collective national effort” to deal with the outbreak.
“We are taking decisive action to ensure our NHS has everything it needs to fight this outbreak,” he said.
“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.
“Dealing with coronavirus is a collective national effort and I will do everything I can to help us win this battle.”
The list of goods exempt from import taxes includes ventilators, COVID-19 testing kits, face masks, protective garments and eye protectors.
The changes will also make the UK more attractive to companies who want to produce or donate supplies to fight coronavirus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are working around the clock to ensure that our heroic frontline NHS and social care staff have all they need to tackle coronavirus.
“The removal of import taxes for these goods will help clear the way for even more equipment to reach the frontline.”
International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss said: “We are removing tariffs and barriers on essential medical supplies imported into the UK to ensure our front line workers have everything they need to treat people suffering from Covid-19.
“As I agreed with my G20 trade minister counterparts this Monday, we will work together to keep trade flowing and ensure the supply of essential goods and services.”
Published at Tue, 31 Mar 2020 16:30:00 +0000