Moscow – In order to prepare the country for the Corona pandemic, the government is allowing an exemption for medicines and medical devices from the strict rules on government procurement.

By Hans-Jürgen Wittmann | Moscow

In the Corona crisis, Russia has softened the rules on import substitution, although the new government had originally intended to tighten them. The government’s anti-crisis plan of 17 March 2020 provides for exemptions in the public procurement of medical devices and medical technology. The principle of “third party suppliers superfluous” is to be temporarily suspended (point 1.16). It states that foreign suppliers will be automatically excluded from the procurement process if two bids are received from manufacturers from member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). A law to this effect is to be adopted by 30 April 2020.

The focus of this measure is mainly on ventilators. On 23 March 2020, the government provided 7.5 billion roubles (around 87.4 million euros) for the purchase of 5,700 ventilators and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) devices. Part of the equipment is to come from Russia. However, the derogation also allows foreign manufacturers to participate in government tenders. In 2019, imports of ventilators amounted to around 115.6 million euros – minus 5.1 per cent compared to the previous year, reports the Federal Customs Service. Imports from Germany were worth 21.8 million euros.

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAWU) is reducing import duties on a “list of critical import goods” to zero by 30 June 2020, including certain finished pharmaceuticals and medical devices (including endoscopes, non-contact thermometers, disposable pipettes, mobile disinfectors).

In addition, until 30 September 2020, EMU will not levy import duties on certain medical devices for the treatment of coronavirus patients (to the list). On 3 April 2020, this list of products was extended to include thermo bags, foils for sealing bottles and medical freezers.

In addition, Russia has already established a list of medical devices whose import and sale is exempt from VAT as early as 2015. This list was last amended by Order No 419 of 2 April 2020.

GTAI Theme Special Coronavirus: Germany Trade & Invest reports on the economic effects of the pandemic and related legal and customs issues in a special issue.