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COVID-19 and the Impact on U.S. Trade

April 17, 2020

The COVID-19 Cargo Resolution Team is Coordinating Imports of Medical Supplies and PPE, as FEMA Issues New Rules on Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a considerable impact on the trade of medical products needed for testing, treatment and prevention of the virus. As the pandemic spreads worldwide, with millions of people infected and a growing number of fatalities, governments are working to stem the spread of the virus and treat those infected. These efforts have affected the flow of critical medical goods as these products are in far more demand due to the pandemic.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal, state, and local agencies are working to mitigate the spread of the virus and keep the public safe. These agencies, along with Executive orders from President Trump have created new limitations on imports and exports of necessary medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The U.S. CBP’s Pharmaceuticals, Health and Chemical Center of Excellence and Expertise has created the COVID-19 Cargo Resolution Team (CCRT) to receive and respond to inquiries regarding the importation of medical supplies and PPE. The team will coordinate with affected ports and other government agencies, and respond directly as appropriate. Staff will also work to ensure that legitimate shipments are not unnecessarily delayed.

CCRT can be contacted via email with the following inquires:

  • Facilitation requests from other government agencies and private industry
  • General inquiries regarding the import of medical instruments (Click here for an indicative list of affected products)

To assist CBP in expediting the release of COVID-19 relief materials, please include as much data about the shipment as possible including:

  • Shipment information: manifest or air waybill numbers, tracking numbers, entry numbers, mode of transport information
  • Conveyance information: carrier name, mode of transportation, flight number, vessel/voyage number, port of arrival, port of entry
  • Cargo description: complete description of the goods being shipped
  • Country information: country of manufacture, country of export
  • Parties involved: names and locations of manufacturers, shippers, importers, and consignees

Earlier this month, the President signed the Memorandum on Allocating Certain Scarce or Threatened Health and Medical Resources to Domestic Use. Under the President’s direction, the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the FEMA Administrator, and in consultation with the Secretary of HHS, is issuing a temporary rule to reserve certain scarce or threatened materials for domestic use only.

The rule applies to the types of PPE outlined below and is necessary because the domestic need for them during the pandemic exceeds the supply. While this rule remains in effect it is subject to the exemptions stated below. No shipments of these designated materials may leave the United States without explicit approval by FEMA.

Effective April 7, 2020 – August 10, 2020, the following products are prohibited from export without FEMA approval:

  • N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators, including devices that are disposable half-face-piece non-powered air-purifying particulate respirators intended for use to cover the nose and mouth of the wearer to help reduce wearer exposure to pathogenic biological airborne particulates;
  • Other Filtering Facepiece Respirators (e.g., those designated as N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, or P95, P99, P100), including single-use, disposable half-mask respiratory protective devices that cover the user’s airway (nose and mouth) and offer protection from particulate materials at an N95 filtration efficiency level per 42 CFR 84.181;
  • Elastomeric, air-purifying respirators and appropriate particulate filters/cartridges;
  • PPE surgical masks, including masks that cover the user’s nose and mouth and provide a physical barrier to fluids and particulate materials; and
  • PPE gloves or surgical gloves, including those defined at 21 CFR 880.6250 (exam gloves) and 878.4460 (surgical gloves) and such gloves intended for the same purposes
  • Other products as determined necessary and subsequently published in the Federal Register.
  • There is an exception for shipments made by or on behalf of U.S. manufacturers with continuous export agreements with customers in other countries since at least January 1, 2020, so long as at least 80% of the manufacturer’s domestic production of covered materials, on a per-item basis, was distributed in the U.S. in the preceding 12 months.

Federal Register Document #2020-07659

CBP has added exclusions for exports of the following:

  • Exports to Canada or Mexico;
  • Exports to US Government entities, such as US military bases overseas;
  • Exports by US Government agencies;
  • Exports by US charities;
  • Exports by critical infrastructure industries for the protection of their workers;
  • Exports by the 3M company;
  • Express or Mail Parcels that do not meet the commercial quantity definition (valued below $2, 500); or
  • In-transit shipments.

It should be noted that the CCRT and FEMA’s list of materials affected are broad and could potentially be expanded as the response to COVID-19 develops globally and domestically. Charter Brokerage will be available for guidance on trade as rules and regulations evolve.

Charter Brokerage is the recognized leader in customs clearance services. We aim to keep our clients up to date with the latest information on imports and exports. To learn more, contact us at: inquiries@charterbrokerage.net

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, COVID-19 Cargo Resolution Team (CCRT), viewed April 16, 2020

World Trade Organization, Trade in Medical Goods in the Context of Tackling COVID-19, viewed April 16, 2020

Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States Government, Prioritization and Allocation of Certain Scarce or Threatened Health and Medical Resources for Domestic Use, viewed April 16, 2020

White House website, Memorandum on Allocating Certain Scarce or Threatened Health and Medical Resources to Domestic Use, viewed April 16, 2020