Vietnam scraps import tariffs on face masks, liquid hand soaps

By Nguyen Ha   February 7, 2020 | 10:53 pm PT
Vietnam scraps import tariffs on face masks, liquid hand soaps
A customer checks the label of a facial mask brand at a Hanoi supermarket. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Anh.
Facemasks, liquid hand soaps and materials needed to produce them will be exempt from import tariffs to help fight the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung Friday signed a decision exempting import tariffs on a list of items needed to improve hygiene in the fight against the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic.

The list includes medical masks, liquid hand wash products and the materials needed to produce them, protective clothing, helmets, goggles and gloves approved by health authorities.

The import tariff exemptions would apply from Saturday until the end of the epidemic, the decision said.

Mask prices have been soaring across the country and drugstores are running out of supply as people seek protection from the deadly pneumonia causing virus.

Mask manufacturers are running at full capacity but are struggling to source raw materials since China has banned exports as it seeks to contain the virus’s spread.

Some mask producers are considering importing from other countries such as India, whose prices are higher than in China, and several local textile firms have stepped in, producing both antibacterial fabric and masks.

Vietnam has so far reported 13 confirmed nCoV infections, three of whom have been declared healthy and discharged from hospitals.

As of Saturday morning, the rapidly spreading virus had killed 724 people, mostly in mainland China, and infected nearly 34,900.

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