The Centre Monday partially lifted its ban on exports of personal protective equipment (PPEs), allowing medical textile manufacturers here to ship up to five million units of such equipment to other nations seeking global suppliers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Boosting Make in India exports, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) medical coveralls for COVID-19 have been allowed with a monthly export quota of 50 lakh (five million),” said Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal in a tweet. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) had first banned exports of PPEs towards the end of January.
Despite a surge in COVID cases here, textile firms have not only managed to fulfill the government’s demand for over 2.2 crore PPEs, but have excess capacity even after catering to additional demand, said a senior government official.
This also comes at a time when other countries are looking for alternatives to China for essential goods, and India has been looking to tap newer markets.
Faced with a steady growth in cases back in March, the Ministry of Home Affairs had constituted an empowered group ranging from officials from the Textiles Ministry and DRDO to the Department of Pharmaceuticals, and Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade to ensure the availability of essential medical equipment.
Since March 30, where a little over 3,000 PPEs were manufactured a day, over 1,100 firms in the country manufacture anywhere between 700,000-800,000 PPEs daily now, said one of the members requesting anonymity. Apart from supplying to the Centre, over 250 licenced sellers are registered on the government’s e-marketplace (GeM Portal) to cater to extra demand by states, the official said.
Boosting Make in India exports, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) medical coveralls for COVID-19 have been allowed with a monthly export quota of 50 lakh. pic.twitter.com/qpebJvqXuy
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) June 29, 2020
“It is important to give a boost to this industry, which has invested in equipment and raw materials to ramp up our domestic capacity of PPEs. Now that they’ve fulfilled the government’s requirement, we need to allow them to use their excess capacity to cater to other markets in the world that have been asking for these PPEs,” said the official.
“Right now, it’s restricted to 50 lakh units a month, because we also want to be cautious and make sure that we are able to cater to any other domestic demand, including by private hospitals. But, going forward, this quota might be increased,” the official added.
Some firms are in conversation with the government to receive quality certifications that would allow them to adhere to international standards, said two persons aware of the development. India has around nine approved laboratories to test the quality of PPEs.
“The PPE manufacturers showed extraordinary enterprise and nimbleness in their ability to rejig large production facilities to manufacture PPEs … The government should soon extend the export opportunity for N95 masks as well,” said Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) chairman Dr A Sakthivel, adding that the size of the global market for PPEs is expected to be more than $60 billion over the next five years.
India is in competition with countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan, as they have lifted the ban on PPE exports and are receiving “huge” orders from large buyers in the US and Europe, he said.
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