China cut its exports of surgical masks and respirators by 5% in March, a report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) revealed.
This result occurred despite the fact that China claims to have increased production to help meet national and global demand for critical products to face the COVID-19 pandemic.
China’s net exports of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) recovered slightly in March.
According to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs, net mask exports fell by only 3.2 million kilograms compared to the previous year
This was the combination of imports that increased only 1.9 million kilograms and exports fell only 1.3 million kilograms. Net mask exports were therefore only 5% less in March 2020 compared to 2019.
Exports and pandemic
Based on that statistic, PIIE, through an analysis by Chad P. Bown, concludes that China is clearly redirecting locally made medical supplies for its own use, which may be understandable.
“But his priorities are helping to drive up mask and respirator prices on the world market. And their limited exports go mainly to rich countries that can afford them, “Bown wrote.
The world cannot afford that luxury in this time of crisis. China remains an incredibly important source of PPE, now in short supply worldwide.
“Precisely because of its remarkable success as an export powerhouse of manufactured medical supplies, China is obligated to ensure that they get to where they are most needed now.
“As time passes, this will not happen in countries like Germany and the United States, which have the capacity to increase national production. Supplies must flow to poor countries where millions can die unnecessarily without adequate protections, “he said.
China must also improve its transparency, he added. How much medical equipment China produces and consumes is unknown.