The government has decided to lift the ban on the export of textile masks and sanitizers. Razak Dawood, advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Exports, tweeted and announced the decision. Experts maintain that this marks Pakistan’s first victory against the COVID-19 as it demonstrates that Pakistan has successfully contained the spread of the virus.
This was decided in a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), working under the National Coordination Committee. He stated the decision will help boost the country’s exports by meeting the demand for these products within the international market.
In a series of tweets, he said that the NCOC meeting approved the export of sanitisers and textile masks, but not N95 or surgical masks. He further added that “Necessary documentation details will be issued in the next few days so please prepare yourselves,”
The NCOC meeting this morning approved the export of sanitizers & textile masks NOT N95 & NOT surgical masks but normal textile masks.Necessary documentation details will be issued in the next few days so pls prepare yourselves. @ImranKhanPTI @PTIofficial @aliya_hamza @ansukhera
— Abdul Razak Dawood (@razak_dawood) April 16, 2020
“We have to think strategically for the after lockdown scenario. I request businessmen to think of changing their product mix, geographical spread and going into new lines of business. This has to be our sustainable growth strategy,” he stated whilst also requesting them to forward their suggestions to the Ministry of Commerce.
On the 31st of January, a ban was imposed on the export of face masks and hand gloves as ‘a primary precautionary measure’ and to ensure availability of ‘sufficient basic first aid material’ due to the pandemic.
The export of all types of surgical masks and sanitizers was banned at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. Though there was no export ban on washable cloth masks, mainly used as anti-dusk pollution masks, but customs authorities were not allowing such exports.
The adviser said that the commerce ministry will issue further clarification with reference to the export of the products. He reiterated that surgical masks and N-95 masks which are in short supply within the local market, will not be exported.
It is worth noting that Pakistan Young Pharmacist Association (PYPA) has recently submitted an application to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in which they alleged that 20 million face masks were smuggled out of Pakistan in connivance with government officials.
According to a circular No ADG(N)/12(21/2020/1101-02 (Dated 10-3-2020), Hassan Ali in-charge of Complaint Cell Additional Director General (North) Office, informed The Director FIA (Islamabad Zone) that a self-explanatory application has been received alleging that “20 million face masks were smuggled out of the country by the aide of Ghazanfar Ali Khan s/o Maqbool Khan, Deputy Director of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and Dr Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister.”
Notably, the export of any health product requires a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the DRAP.