Imports of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Released
3/09/2020

Since April 2020 there has been a notable increase in the import of commodities containing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including face masks, nitrile gloves, gowns and safety eye wear.

These increases have coincided with efforts by the Australian Government to boost the National Medical Stockpile with purchases of a range of medical supplies including PPE and the introduction of a new concessional item by the Australian Border Force to provide a free rate of customs duty for hygiene or medical products imported to treat, diagnose or prevent the spread of COVID-19, initially for the period of 1 February to 31 July 2020.

Figure 1 below includes imports of 13 commodities (see Appendix A for more information) identified as containing PPE. China was, and remains the main source of imports for these commodities.

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Significant year-on-year increase have been seen in a number of commodities, but of particular note are:

  • “Made up textile articles” and “Made up non-woven textile articles” which includes imports of face masks;
  • “Gloves, mittens and mitts, of vulcanised rubber” which includes disposable nitrile gloves;
  • “Garments, made up of fabrics of felt or of nonwovens, not impregnated or coated” and “Garments made up of felt or non-woven fabrics” which includes imports of isolation and medical protective overalls; and
  • “Non-powered safety eyewear (incl. sporting goggles)” which includes face shields and safety goggles.
     

Figure 2 below shows the change in these commodities from 2018-19 to 2019-20.

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Exports of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Australia’s exports of commodities identified as containing PPE are relatively small when compared to imports, recording $10m in July 2020 which is $3m more than recorded in July 2019.

Appendix A

Commodities identified as containing PPE and an example of the items reported by importers under each.

SITCHTISCHTISC Commodity descriptorExamples of items included
642944818500037Articles of apparel and clothing accessories of paper pulp, paper, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibresSurgical masks and gowns
658936307901010Knitted or crocheted articles of textile materials combined with rubber threads, or impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with rubber or made with textile thread impregnated, coated or covered with rubber (excl. goods of HS 9619)Face masks
658936307902905Knitted or crocheted articles (incl. dress patterns), (excl. ornamental trimmings in the piece, goods of HS 9619 and other goods more specifically included in other tariff codes of Section 11 or elsewhere in the Nomenclature)Face masks
658936307904007Made up non-woven textile articles (excl. floor or dish-cloths and cleaning cloths, life jackets, life belts, goods of HS 9619 and other goods more specifically included in other Tariff codes of Section 11 or elsewhere in the NomenclatureFace masks
658936307909908Made up textile articles, (excl. floor or dish-cloths and cleaning cloths, life jackets, life belts, goods of HS 9619 and other goods more specifically included in other Tariff codes of Section 11 or elsewhere in the Nomenclature)Face masks
848213926202157Anti-radiation suits, anti-contamination suits and similar protective garments, of plastics or of other materials of HS 3901 to HS 3914Protective garments; PPE clothing; Disposable gowns
848213926202930Garments, of plastics or of other materials of HS 3901 to HS 3914 (excl. corset busks; and anti-radiation suits, anti-contamination suits and similar protective garments; and goods of HS 9619)Isolation gown; Face shield; PE apron
848224015199095Gloves, mittens and mitts, of vulcanised rubber, for all purposes (excl. surgical gloves, mittens and mitts; mittens and mitts specially designed for use in sports; and those of hard rubber (HS 4017))Nitrile gloves
845216210101001Garments, made up of fabrics of felt or of nonwovens, or being fabric not impregnated or coatedIsolation gowns; Disposable medical protective overalls
845216210109009Garments made up of felt or nonwoven fabrics (excl. those nonwovens, being fabric not impregnated or coated)Isolation gowns; Surgical cloths
884239004900002Non-powered safety eyewear (incl. sporting goggles)Goggles; Non-powered safety eye wear
893993926909086Articles, polymers of ethylene or of propylene, not elsewhere specified or included (excluding tarpaulins, of a kind used as components in passenger motor vehicles, articles of HS 3922 to 392640; goods of 9619 and those for 9620)Face shields
893993926909089Articles of plastics or of other materials of 3901 to 3914, nes (excluding polymers of ethylene or of propylene; of a kind used as components in passenger motor vehicles, articles of HS 3922 to 392640; goods of 9619 and those for 9620)Face shields
SITC – Standard International Trade Classification
HTISC – Harmonized Tariff Item Statistical Code
 

For more information on international merchandise trade classifications, see International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat.no 5489.0).