Employees pack surgical masks at a production facility in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on April 10, 2020. (Photo: China Daily)
Govt moves to ensure quality, tightens procedures to export such products
China will work at top capacity to provide assistance to the international community and further enhance quality control over exports of medical supplies to better aid the global battle against the COVID-19 outbreak, officials said on Sunday.
Chinese companies had exported epidemic prevention and control goods to 191 countries and regions this year by Saturday. The nation has not and never will restrict exports of medical supplies. It will continue to provide high-quality products to help other countries fight the contagion, said Li Xingqian, director-general of the Ministry of Commerce's department of foreign trade.
A total of 72 economies and eight international organizations currently are negotiating purchases involving 129 shipments of epidemic prevention materials, Li said. Many countries have praised the quality of goods procured from China, Li added, and the "China restricts exports" narrative reported by certain foreign media is a complete misunderstanding and lacks objectivity.
The General Administration of Customs reported that from March 1 to April 25, China had exported 55 billion yuan ($7.77 billion) worth of epidemic prevention and control supplies, including 21.1 billion masks, 109 million protective gowns, 110,000 patient monitors and 9.29 million infrared thermometers.
The country's average daily export volume in the category jumped from 1 billion yuan in early April to over 2.5 billion yuan late this month.
To protect the international image of products made in China, the Chinese government has tightened procedures needed to ship medical supplies to the global market and stepped up supervision over exports of nonsurgical masks. They were required to meet the quality standards of either China or their respective export destinations as of Sunday, Li added.
The commerce ministry will confirm the list of qualified mask manufacturers, and the State Administration for Market Regulation will offer a list of substandard products and producers to provide a basis for customs authorities to clear exports, according to a new policy document jointly released on Friday by commerce, market regulation and customs officials.
Exporters of nonsurgical masks should file the joint declaration of the exporter and importer when going through customs clearance to make sure they are up to standard and will not be used for surgical purposes, said Jin Hai, director-general of the customs administration's department of general operations.
Also starting on Sunday, businesses exporting products verified or registered overseas－including COVID-19 testing kits, medical masks, medical protective suits, ventilators and infrared thermometers－had to provide an export declaration of medical supplies to customs authorities, who then could clear the products in accordance with the business lists.
Many importing countries were having difficulties in obtaining sufficient supplies. China, as a vital part of the global medical industrial chain, has stepped up, said Wang Shucai, deputy director-general of the department of medical device regulation of the National Medical Products Administration.
As a traditional manufacturing center for light products, Quanzhou in Fujian province shifted part of its primary business from making and exporting shoes, garments and other textiles to making epidemic prevention and control goods that have been shipped to more than 30 countries and regions including Japan, South Korea, Iran and the United States since Spring Festival.
Quanzhou's factories shipped 346 million masks, including 19.74 million surgical masks, 517,100 protective gowns and 131,800 pairs of protective goggles to foreign markets between March 1 and April 20 this year, customs officials reported.
While encouraging local manufacturers to increase their production of such exports, Gu Hongmei, head of the customs administration's Quanzhou branch, said the customs district will continue to intensify its crackdown on unqualified medical supplies with targeted efforts to enhance oversight of such goods that are exported or in transit this year.