While the battle against the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic still continues, many countries are suffering from a shortage of medical supplies – including face masks and other personal protective equipment products. On the worldwide stage, China has a dominant position in relation to the supply of these medical supplies. At local level, the production of coronavirus test kits and other medical equipment increases resulting in higher export volume, but also worldwide shortages and extortionate prices.

Even more worrisome, some countries note that medical supplies from China are subject to poor quality. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport had to recall 600.000 defective FFP-2 face masks that are imported from China.

Although there is a National Consortium for Resources (in Dutch: Landelijk Consortium Hulpmiddelen) to realize the central purchasing of face masks and other personal protective equipment in the Netherlands, many Dutch companies are still buying these products by themselves. What should these companies pay attention to when purchasing medical supplies from China?

New export requirements

As from April 1, 2020, the Ministry of Commerce, the General Administration of Customs and the National Medical Products Administration jointly issued the Announcement on the Orderly Export of Medical Supplies – No.5 2020 (“Announcement”) pursuant to which stricter rules are imposed on the export of medical supplies from China.

Pursuant to the Announcement, the export requirements are as following:

  1. The medical product is registered in China and tested to be eligible for export – this requirement will be fulfilled by showing the Medical Device Registration Certificate issued by the National Medical Products Administration;
  2. The medical product meets the standard requirements of the importing country – the Announcement does not indicate how this can be proven by the relevant exporting company;
  3. The exporting company completes the declaration form for the export of medical supplies for the General Administration of Customs – the declaration form template can be found here.

The Announcement only regulates the export of the following medical supplies:

  • COVID-19 testing kits
  • Ventilators
  • Medical protective clothing
  • Medical face masks
  • Infrared thermometers

Violation and penalties

Companies that try to avoid the export requirements on medical supplies by false reporting of the goods, penalties can be imposed by the General Administration of Customs ranging from seizure of goods and fines to criminal liability for serious offences. With regard to poor quality products, the exporting company runs the risk, besides seizure of goods and monetary fines, of getting blacklisted by the General Administration of Customs and will be subject to more regulated checks.


Although the Announcement regulates the quality of the exported face masks and other personal protective equipment products, it is not given that Chinese companies are adjusting and following the newly issued regulation, certainly not in these times where a lot of money can be generated. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it could also be valuable to check whether the company from which you are buying actually exist. Does the company have the appropriate license to produce the medical supplies? Is it legitimate to import the particular medical product? Do you have a signed agreement or purchase order to which you can refer in case of non-delivery?

Marxman is a member of the China Collaborative Group (CCG). The CCG is an international network which enables to facilitate trade with and investment into China, as well as investments from China to abroad.