The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) permitted the export of non-medical and non-surgical masks made up of cotton, silk, wool and knitted materials by amending its earlier notifications . However, export of all medical and surgical masks will remain prohibited.
As per the original notifications dated 31 January and 19 March, the government had banned the export of all kinds of masks to avoid any shortage of masks in the country, which was done in view of the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
Apparel exporters were demanding ease in export ban on cotton, silk, wool and knitted masks.
Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) has voiced that this decision will give impetus to the production of masks in the country.
“There is a huge opportunity for Indian Apparel manufacturers for export of such masks,” AEPC Chairman A Sakthivel said, adding that there is a huge demand for the export of these products and the council has already identified the international markets for these non-medical and non-surgical masks.
“The Council assures the government that it will ensure exports of these items to the tune of USD 1 billion within the next three months,” he added.
In the beginning of May, DGFT had permitted the export of all sanitisers except alcohol-based hand sanitisers amidst the burgeoning demand for the product during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has been calibrating its directions on export of crucial materials like personal protective equipment, drugs like paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine, sanitisers, among others to ensure adequate availability of these products in India.
In April, the government had lifted restrictions on exports of 12 Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients amid mounting pressure from the United States.
As per the data released by the Commerce Ministry on Friday, India’s merchandise exports dropped 60.3% and imports fell 58.7% ,leading to a trade deficit of $6.8 billion as countries sealed their borders to contain the spread of the pandemic. Of the 30 major exporting items, only iron ore (17.5%) and pharmaceuticals (0.25%) recorded positive growth in April.
The call for a self-reliant was echoed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on Tuesday, “When the Corona crisis started, there was not a single PPE kit made in India. The N-95 masks were produced in small quantity in India. Today we are in a situation to produce 2 lakh PPE and 2 lakh N-95 masks daily. We were able to do this because India turned this crisis into an opportunity”, the PM stated in his address to the nation.