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Medical supply exports unimpeded, firms say

By Jing Shuiyu and Zheng Yiran | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-20 07:42
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A China Southern Airlines worker loads medical supplies, including masks and protective suits, at Shenyang Taoxian International Airport in Northeast China's Liaoning province, on March 16, 2020. [Photo provided to]

China does not restrict medical supply exports, and is ramping up efforts to ensure product quality to help the global fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak, businesses and analysts said.

Their comments follow some foreign media reports that claim China has tightened restrictions on exports of face masks and other personal protective equipment.

Chen Qiaoshan, a medical analyst at market research consultancy Analysys in Beijing, said: "As far as I know, by now, China has not restricted any exports of medical supplies. It is only intercepting defective medical equipment to ensure the quality of exports."

As the contagion has been effectively controlled in China, in addition to meeting domestic demand, Chinese medical equipment producers are also stepping up efforts to offer assistance to overseas markets, Chen said. "There is no reason for the country to restrict the export of medical supplies," she added.

A recently issued government document stipulates that starting April 1, exporters of COVID-19 test kits, surgical masks, protective gowns, ventilators and infrared thermometers have to provide extra documentation when they go through customs clearance, in order to prove their products have obtained China's registration certification for medical devices and meet the quality standards of the importing country or region.

The document was jointly released by the Ministry of Commerce, the General Administration of Customs and the National Medical Products Administration.

While adopting new measures to ensure the quality of products, China has not restricted medical supply exports, according to businesses.

Yuan Zhen, deputy general manager of Jiangsu Yuyue Medical Equipment & Supply Co, said that since the start of the outbreak, the company's exports of medical equipment have never been restricted.

The company said that by Friday it had received orders for more than 30,000 ventilators and nearly 1 million forehead thermometers from over 70 countries and regions. Thirteen thousand ventilators and 500,000 forehead thermometers have already been delivered.

Other domestic medical companies also said that their overseas medical supply orders were not blocked.

Global demand for major medical supplies has skyrocketed as a result of the outbreak. To meet the demand, many Chinese manufacturers have been working overtime.

Recognized as a global manufacturing powerhouse, China accounts for about one-fifth of the global production of multifunction ventilators and for about 50 percent of global face mask output.

"As the domestic situation has been controlled, China has pledged to step up efforts to offer daily necessities and medical supplies to the overseas market," said Zhang Yansheng, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. "The stance shows that China is a very responsible country," Zhang said.

At a news conference on Thursday, Gao Feng, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said China has not and would never restrict the export of medical supplies. Chinese customs authorities have taken measures to expedite the customs clearance of exported anti-epidemic materials, Gao said.

According to the ministry, 58 economies and four international organizations had signed medical procurement contracts with Chinese enterprises as of April 8.

From April 1 to 12, China exported 16.6 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) worth of inspected medical supplies, according to the General Administration of Customs.

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