Following the adoption by the European Commission of Regulation (EU) 2020/402 on 15 March 2020, as amended on 20 March 2020, introducing a prior licensing requirement for exports of medical protective equipment from EU Member States to third countries (except for exports to EFTA Member States, namely including Switzerland), the Swiss Government has on 25 March 2020, as part of its COVID-19 regulatory framework, adopted a Regulation, taking effect on March 26, 12:00am, requiring a prior license for any exports of medical protective equipment to third countries, except for exports to EU and EFTA Member States.
This move was prompted by the rapidly increased need for (and lack of sufficient availability of) adequate protective equipment (such as masks, gloves, glasses, overcoats, etc., as listed in an Annex to the Regulation). The measures are meant to be aligned with the EU Regulation and to be applied reciprocally, after the EU exempted exports from the EU to the EFTA from the licensing requirement, in light of the widely integrated production supply chains and distribution networks in Europe and scarcity of the required equipment in most European countries. Therefore, to the extent certain EU Member States will continue to block exports of such equipment to Switzerland, Switzerland reserves its right to withhold licenses.
However, and most importantly, Switzerland expressly calls for Europe-wide cooperation and declares its willingness to continue to act in solidarity with those countries particularly hit by COVID-19. Export licenses have to be applied for with SECO through their online export control system ELIC (www.elic.admin.ch) and shall be processed within 5 working days.
Author: Philippe M. Reich