(Yicai Global) Feb. 25 -- Global supply chains for medical supplies such as masks, protective clothing and goggles will be affected if China does not take measures now to fully resume production of the raw materials needed, according to researchers at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
Since the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 virus to be a public health emergency of international concern, many countries have been strengthening their response to a potential pandemic and the global demand for protective medical gear has soared, Wu Xueming, deputy head of the SASS Institute of China Studies, and Associate Researcher Pan Weilin said yesterday.
China is the world's biggest producer of face masks, accounting for around half of global capacity. It is also one of the world's major exporters of the raw materials used in their production. Masks and surgical gowns are made from high-end non-woven fabrics which in turn are made from polypropylene resins.
But output has been on a downturn since travel bans and other measures to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak have affected the number of workers returning to work after the extended Chinese New Year holiday, hampered logistics and discouraged factories from reopening.
The Chinese government should offer incentives, such as low-interest loans to manufacturers of masks and other protective gear, Wu and Pan said. It can also ask suppliers of raw materials to offer fair prices, defer payments and other preferential terms to enable mask makers to resume production quickly and ensure optimum output.
China has been on a mask-making drive ever since the epidemic broke out last December. Daily output almost quadrupled in the three weeks from Feb. 1 to 22 to 54.8 million. The country has produced 570 million masks in the last 20 days, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.
Around 3,000 companies in different sectors across the country have turned to making masks and other medical products in response to a national call to increase supply. The government has promised to buy as much as it can produce. Carmakers BYD, Guangzhou Automobile Group and SAIC-GM Wuling Automobile have all added masks to their production lines.
Editor: Kim Taylor