Commerce Ministry has issued a statutory notification (SRO) allowing the export of surgical and N95/K95 masks with strict monitoring of its availability in the domestic market by a committee.
Ministry of Commerce had imposed a ban on the export of various personal protective equipment (PPE) items due to COVID-19 on the recommendation of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination (MNHSR&C) on March 24, 2020. However, subsequently, the business community approached Ministries of Commerce and Health with the plea that local manufacturers of PPEs were producing these items at full capacity resulting in an inventory surplus.
Therefore, they requested to allow them to export the surplus PPE items to confirmed international orders. Subsequently, on a summary moved by MoC, the cabinet in its meeting held on June 2, 2020, decided to lift the ban on the export of PPE items except on surgical masks, N95 masks, and Tyvek suits.
The cabinet also constituted a committee to monitor the stockpile of PPEs in the country. Decisions of the cabinet were promulgated vide SRO 526(l)/2020 dated 9th June 2020 and notification of committee on June 10, 2020.
The committee constituted by the cabinet has held four meetings. During the fourth meeting held on July 29, 2020, the committee took a detailed review of the monthly stock of PPEs submitted by National & Provincial Disaster Management Authorities along with national need submitted by MNHSR&C. The committee also took note of data provided by MoS&T and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) with respect to the locally manufactured production capacity of the banned PPE items (surgical masks, N95 masks & Tyvek Suits).
The committee agreed that “based on the data provided by MoS& T, MNHSR&C, and TDAP, – MoC will move a summary for the cabinet for lifting the ban on the export of surgical masks and N95/K95 masks.”
Section 3(1) of the Imports and Exports (Control) Act 1950 empowers the Federal Government to prohibit, restrict or otherwise control the import into and export from Pakistan, of any good or class of goods. The requirement of rule-8 of the Rules of Business 1973, in respect of the matter, gets fulfilled as the relevant Ministries/Divisions and Organizations, i.e. Ministries of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, Science & Technology, and Industries & Production have been represented in the committee constituted by the cabinet to monitor the stockpile situation of the PPEs in the country.
Commerce Ministry had proposed that on the recommendation of the committee constituted by the cabinet, the export of surgical masks and N95/K95 masks may be allowed.
However, the committee will continue to meet regularly and monitor the stocks of all PPE and if there is a need it will immediately recommend a ban on the export of the specified PPE items. “The notification for export of surgical, N/ KN-95 masks is out. I believe demand is still high, so exporters should pursue it aggressively. I hope we will get our due share of the world market,” said, Commerce Advisor, Abdul Razak Dawood, in a tweet.