Duty exemptions for vapes and energy drinks

Alongside the removal of duty exemptions, the government has increased the import duty exemption threshold from MVR 6,000 to MVR 10,000.

Maldives Maritime Journal

Maldives Maritime Journal

In a significant policy shift, the Maldives government has announced that duty exemptions for vape products and energy drinks will be discontinued starting August 1, 2024. This change is part of broader health and fiscal policies aimed at regulating the import and consumption of potentially harmful products.

The elimination of duty exemptions aligns with international health guidelines and the Maldives' commitment to public health initiatives. Vape products and energy drinks have been scrutinised globally for their health impacts. Vaping, in particular, has raised concerns due to its popularity among younger demographics and its potential to lead to nicotine addiction. Energy drinks, often high in sugar and caffeine, have been linked to various health issues, including cardiovascular problems. The Government as well as the general public has been raising concerns around the common usage of vape, smoking as well as energy drinks in the Maldives. However, as of late this issue has increased yet again, leading to vaping and consumption of energy drinks becoming commonly accepted in social settings as well as the workplace. 

The decision may also reflect an effort to adjust fiscal policies to better align with health objectives. By removing duty exemptions, the government is putting an initiative to discourage the import and consumption of such products that have proved to be harmful to one’s health. This move could potentially reduce the health burden associated with their use and shift consumer behaviour towards healthier alternatives.

Alongside the removal of duty exemptions, the government has increased the import duty exemption threshold from MVR 6,000 to MVR 10,000. Effective July 1, 2024, this change is designed to expedite customs processes for personal imports, making it easier for individuals to bring goods into the country. However, it is important to note that this threshold adjustment does not apply to business-related imports, which remain subject to standard duty regulations.

The biggest reason for increasing this allowance is to clear the [shipments] as soon as possible when products are brought the most from places like Shein. When the [allowance] was limited to MVR 6,000, the parcels had to be opened and checked. With the limit increased to MVR 10,000, [the shipments] can be cleared without opening them and needing documents. 
Deputy Chief Superintendent of Maldives Customs Service Ahmed Niyaz

This policy change is part of a larger trend where the Maldives is recalibrating its import and taxation policies. Previously, exemptions were extended to a range of products, including cigarettes and single-use plastics, reflecting a more lenient approach. The current shift indicates a more stringent regulatory stance, prioritizing public health and environmental sustainability.

The removal of duty exemptions for vapes and energy drinks is expected to have both immediate and long-term impacts on consumer behaviour and public health. While some may view this as a restrictive measure, it aligns with global health standards and reflects the Maldives' proactive approach to addressing public health challenges.

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