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Coronavirus: Requirement for export authorization for personal protective equipment comes to its end

The export authorization scheme for personal protective equipment (PPE), first introduced in March this year, to ensure adequacy of supply of such products in the EU in times of the coronavirus pandemic, ceases to apply, as planned, from 26 May.

The Commission‘s assessment of its application led to the conclusion that it has served its purpose. The scheme has been put in place as a temporary measure and its lapsing is entirely consistent with our commitment in that respect. There have been no requests to prolong the scheme.

The implementation of the scheme also shows that the authorization regime struck the right balance between delivering on public health needs and securing open trade flows. According to the reports submitted by Member States, exporters requested more than 1,300 authorizations based on the regulation that entered into force on 26 April. Some 95% of all applications have been approved. Also based on Member States’ reports, more than 13 million protective masks, around 1 million protective garments and more than 350,000 protective masks and visors have been exported from the EU since 26 April.

[European Commission]

Michel Barnier: UK needs to get real if it wants a Brexit deal

“The British have not understood, or they do not want to understand, that Brexit has consequences for them,” EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said in a punchy reaction to recent public statements by his British counterpart David Frost.

Speaking to German radio Deutschlandfunk Friday morning (29 May), Barnier demanded “more realism in London in the near future if they want an orderly agreement to withdraw from the single market and the customs union.”

U.K. chief negotiator David Frost told MPs on the House of Commons’ Brexit committee Wednesday (27 May) that Brussels’ negotiating mandate would “need to evolve” in order for an agreement to be reached, or else the U.K. would walk away from negotiations.

Barnier said Friday (29 May) that such changes are “out of question.”

“I would remind you that the United Kingdom is leaving the internal market and the customs union … it’s not us leaving the United Kingdom,” he said. “A third country, the United Kingdom, will not dictate the conditions of access to our market for British goods, services, data or for workers and businesses … We remain sovereign. This is my mandate.”


UK government in talks with companies about additional customs declarations

Britain’s government is in talks with businesses on the additional customs declarations needed after the country leaves the European Union’s customs union, cabinet office minister Michael Gove said on Wednesday (27 May).

“We are conducting work with (business) to determine exactly how many additional customs declarations may be required and what additional staff may be required in order to process them,” Gove told a parliamentary committee.

“There will be unfettered access for goods from Northern Ireland into Great Britain. There will be some new checks of course on products of animal origin.”


SEDE rapporteur: EU badly needs common rules, transparency in arms export

The EU is currently the second-largest arms supplier in the world, after the US and before Russia, and a new European Parliament report by MEP Hannah Neumann (Greens) is set to urge the Commission and member states to address concerns over the lack of transparency and common arms export rules across the bloc.

“There’s a broad agreement across political parties to support the call for increased transparency and coherence on EU arms exports,” Neumann told EURACTIV in an interview. “But we know that once it comes to concrete activities and measures to take, some significant differences remain.”

The 2008 EU Common Position has established legally binding criteria, including the ban of arms exports that provoke or prolong armed conflicts or aggravate existing conflicts, and Council conclusions in 2019 reaffirmed that “military equipment and technology should be traded in a responsible and accountable way”.

Although there has been more and more cooperation on arms production among member states, arms exports still remain a largely national responsibility.

“Member states have very different ways of interpreting the common position, leading to different export decisions, which becomes especially problematic when member states cooperate to produce arms that are exported to third countries,” Neumann said.


Middle East

Saudi Arabia: Increased customs duties, effective 10 June 2020

The General Authority of Saudi Customs on 27 May 2020 announced increased rates of customs duties for certain commodities and goods.

The customs duties are to increase at rates ranging from 0.5% to 15% for various products, beginning from 10 June 2020.

The products potentially affected by the increased customs duty rates include poultry, meat, dairy products, certain consumer products, some types of drinks and vegetables, spare parts, chemicals, building materials, and vehicles.




Southern Africa: SADC Set to Reopen Cross-Border Trade

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is gearing up for a full reopening of cross-border trading.

This comes after experts in the region expressed satisfaction over the precautionary measures countries within the 16-member bloc have taken to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus which causes Covid-19.

The move comes after about 50 days when the body adopted its regional guidelines for harmonizing and facilitating movement of critical goods and services across the region during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The guidelines, adopted after a meeting of the SADC Council of Ministers on April 6, 2020, aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19 through transport across borders; facilitating the implementation of transport related national Covid-19 measures in cross-border transportation and facilitating flow of essential goods such as fuel, food and medicines. The guidelines also sought to limit unnecessary and mass movement of passengers across borders and harmonizing and coordinating transport-related national Covid-19 policies, regulations, and response measures.

[All Africa]