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EU prolongs duty-free import of face masks, medical gear

The European Commission extended until the end of October a waiver of customs duties and sales taxes on imported face masks and other medical gear to help tackle shortages as the bloc fights the coronavirus epidemic.

The measure was initially adopted in April for the period covering the first six months of the year, and has now been extended to October 31. It will also be applied by the United Kingdom.

“Today’s decision is due to the risks posed to public health by the number of coronavirus cases in member states and to the shortages of medical equipment which are still recorded,” the EU executive commission said in a statement released on Thursday (July 23).

Masks, testing kits and ventilators are among imported items that will continue to be exempted from sale tax and customs duties in the 27-nation bloc and Britain.

Medical gear was in short supply when the pandemic first hit countries in the bloc in March. The problem is less intense now as most European nations have long past the peak of their outbreaks, but shortages could re-emerge in the event of a second large wave, which is considered possible in the autumn.


European Commission appoints its first Chief Trade Enforcement Officer

The European Commission has appointed today Mr Denis Redonnet to the function of Deputy Director-General in the Directorate-General for Trade (DG TRADE) which encompasses the new role of Chief Trade Enforcement Officer (CTEO).

The appointment of the CTEO is an important step in strengthening the EU’s implementation and enforcement agenda, both inside the EU and globally. The CTEO will also help EU exporters gain more value from partner markets and will also strengthen the enforcement of sustainable development commitments, notably in relation to the climate agenda and labor rights.

Denis Redonnet, a French national, is currently the Director for “WTO, Legal Affairs and Trade in Goods” in DG Trade. Previously he headed the WTO division and the Strategy division of this DG. Before that, he served as Deputy Head of Cabinet to the EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and advisor to EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy. Over the course of his career at the European Commission, he has held positions in DGs dealing with monetary, international economic affairs and the internal market. He is an economist by training, and started his career as a corporate banker for a French bank in the city of London. The date of effect of this appointment will be determined later.

[European Commission]


Middle East

Women 20 welcomes new support from UPS for female entrepreneurship

Women 20 (W20), an official G20 engagement group, on July 23 announced the launch of a Knowledge Partnership with UPS to support the engagement group’s advocacy work on closing the gender divide within digital trade through a joint policy brief. This set of recommendations urges G20 governments, the private sector, and civil society to bolster women entrepreneurs’ economic engagement in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Through our Women Exporters Program (WEP), UPS has gained extensive knowledge and understanding of the barriers faced by women who want to export, and we’ve developed the policy recommendations to unlock women’s access to the international marketplace,” said Laura Lane, UPS President of Global Public Affairs. “We are proud to work with the W20 as a Knowledge Partner to leverage our insight as a global logistics leader to advance women’s empowerment around the world.”

In 2018, UPS and the UPS Foundation launched the Women Exporters Program (WEP) as part of the company’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. The WEP, working with the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) SheTrades initiative, NGO and government partners, is a global effort to enable women-owned businesses to gain knowledge on trade, exporting, and logistics. ITC and UPS aim to connect 3 million women to the global marketplace by 2021.


Ajman Free Zone (UAE) launches new warehouse project

Ajman Free Zone (AFZ) has launched a strategic project to build a number of warehouses that serve an array of targeted sectors such as health, food and sustainable development.

The AED36-million ($9.8 million) green project with a total built-up area of 9,070 sq m will consist of 82 units and service blocks that can be used as showrooms, warehouses or industrial facilities, said a statement.

The size of the multipurpose units starts from 100 sq m and they can be used individually or by combining multiple units to form larger units, depending on the needs of investors or tenants.

Launching the project, Sheikh Ahmed bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, AFZ Chairman, emphasized that AFZ is constantly looking for ways and strategies to add further value to the emirate’s business environment, noting that the latest warehousing project will enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of AFZ as a destination for business and commercial and industrial activities. He added that the project will also support environment protection initiatives and promote sustainable development by reducing electricity consumption and carbon emissions.

[Trade Arabia]