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The Financial Express

BD usually applies high tariff on PPE, cut it last month

FE ONLINE REPORT | Published: April 08, 2020 11:37:31 | Updated: April 10, 2020 10:45:01


A representational image. — Collected Photo A representational image. — Collected Photo

Bangladesh usually maintains one of the highest average MFN (Most Favoured Nation)-applied tariffs on personal protective equipment (PPE), according to the latest report of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

It showed that while global average import tariffs on PPE are 11.5 per cent, the rate in the country is 19.80 per cent.

“Protective supplies include those related to prevention like hand soap and sanitizer, hand gloves, and face masks,” said the report.

The WTO report added that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended regularly washing hands with soaps and water or using hand sanitisers to disinfect them and stop the spread of coronavirus.

After the deadly virus raised its ugly head in Bangladesh, the customs authority of the country waived all the import duties on safety kits and related raw materials at the last week of March.

The WTO, however, didn’t take that waiver into account while preparing the report since the issue of the country's tariff waiver was probably not notified to the Geneva-based trade body.

The WTO report showed that average applied tariffs on the personal protective goods are more  than five times higher than those on medicines.

While global average import tariffs on medicines are 2.10 per cent, Bangladesh on average applies them at 3.20 per cent.

Titled ‘Trade in Medical Goods in the Context of Tackling COVID-19’, the report prepared by the WTO secretariat was released in Geneva on Friday.

The report also said that the global tariffs applied on average for hand soaps are 17.0 per cent.

A total of 72 WTO members apply duty greater than 15.0 per cent while some tariffs are as high as 50.0 per cent (Dominica) and 56.70 per cent (Egypt).

Saying that hand sanitisers have an average tariff of 5.0 per cent, the report added: “Four Members apply a tariff higher than 10.0 per cent, namely Djibouti, Bangladesh, Tonga, and Mauritania.”

“A third of all WTO Members apply tariff for hand sanitizers in the range of 2.50 per cent to 5.0 per cent - significantly lower than for soap,” it continued.

The report also showed that ‘face masks’ are another critical personal protective product, which is subject to 9.10 per cent MFN applied tariff on average.

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