RCEP countries offer zero tariff on critical Covid-19 goods

As participating countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) target to conclude the trade deal this year, some countries have offered zero tariff on critical Covid-19 products, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.


“For critical products for (the) pandemic, they are even made duty-free based on (the) Bayanihan Act. But other RCEP countries also offer zero percent (tariff),” Lopez told reporters in a text message on Friday.


The RCEP is a trade agreement among the 10 Asean member states and the bloc’s free trade agreement (FTA) partners – Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, and South Korea.


The trade deal aims to further reduce tariffs on goods and services for a freer movement of products and services among participating countries.


The RCEP participating countries stand to benefit from the trade deal as one of the world’s largest exporters of medical products – China – is part of the new trade bloc.


According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), China is the world’s seventh-largest exporter of medical products in 2019, selling USD51.6 billion to the world.


It is also the world’s largest source of personal protective products followed by Germany and the United States.


Personal protective products shared 49 percent of China’s export of medical products in 2019, which amounted to USD23 billion. These products include face masks, hand soap, sanitizer, and protective spectacles.


China is also the top exporter of face masks, with a 25-percent share, and has the fourth-largest share of ventilator exports, accounting for 10 percent.


The WTO data also show that the average most-favored-nation (MFN) applied tariff on Covid-19 relevant medical products among WTO members is at 4.8 percent.


China’s applied tariff on medical products is at 4.2 percent, lower than the global average.


On the other hand, RCEP participating country South Korea’s tariff on medical products is higher at 5.9 percent on average.


Source: Philippines News Agency

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