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May 22, 2020

Pakistan losing over $2 bn export potential

National

May 22, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is losing over $2 billion export potential by not sending abroad Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs), sanitizers and textile masks because the government has not yet granted permission to exporters, it was learnt. 

Top official sources confirmed that the federal cabinet had granted conditional permission as exporters would have to seek No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Ministry of Industries before moving ahead.

However, the exporters are awaiting for official permission through issuance of SRO to export the PPEs and other attached equipment. In such conditions, there will be no possibility to send PPEs abroad, so practically the country might lose an opportunity to earn precious foreign exchange. “There are certain standards placed by every country where our exporters are vying for selling their products. There will be local manufacturers who can meet local requirements easily. We are waiting for SRO related to allowing exports of PPEs,” President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industries Almas Haider said while talking to The News on telephone here on Thursday.

The president LCCI, who has prepared a detailed paper on export of PPEs, told the scribe that till February 2020 most of the PPEs were imported from China. Wuhan was under lockdown and the pandemic was growing in China. Their industry took the challenge and grew exponentially to provide Personal Protective Equipment for the Chinese medical personnel.

Now with the US and China relations fast deteriorating, the buyers in the EU and USA are looking for alternate sources of supply, so that their supply chains aren’t disrupted if this relation turns sour. Orders are pouring into from other countries of Asia. We need to use this window otherwise these orders will shift to India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc.

The PPE manufacturing is regulated by DRAP. None of the companies which had started local manufacturing of PPEs are registered with DRAP. Under this new situation, most of the countries regulators, including FDA and EU, have relaxed these regulations till this emergency lasts. The Punjab government has notified standards for PPEs which may be adopted nationally by relaxing all other rules. Otherwise, local manufacturing is at an imminent risk of closure.

Demand for PPEs (If Covid 19 Peaks and we have to take care of all our medical personnel). As per Economic Survey of Pakistan 2018-19, the number of registered doctors stands at 220,829, registered nurses 108,474, registered dentists 22,595, registered midwives 40,272, registered Lady Health Visitors 19,910 and total number of registered medical professionals is at 412,080.

Assuming 1 mask per day is used by every medical professional at its peak, total requirement of masks stands at 124 million pcs per annum, assuming 1 gown per day is used by 50pc medical professional at its peak, total requirement of gowns 62 million pcs per annum, assuming 4 face shield for 50pc of medical professionals per month at its peak, total requirement of face shields 10 million per annum.

The DRAP must extend exemption of rules on Category A medical devices from operation of “Medical Devices Rules 2017” notified via SRO 32(I)2018 for the period of emergency, or for 24 months, whichever is later, like other countries of the world.