Remarkable journey! How India became from an importer of medical coveralls to exporter — all in few months

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Published: June 30, 2020 7:00 AM

This marks India’s remarkable journey from an importer of medical coveralls until the Covid-19 outbreak to an exporter now — all in a matter of few months.

The apparel industry is currently the largest producer of such PPEs.The apparel industry is currently the largest producer of such PPEs. (Representative image)

In a first, the government on Monday allowed exports of medical coveralls, a key personal protection equipment (PPE), but capped the monthly shipment at 50 lakh units to ensure domestic supplies remain steady in times of the pandemic.

This marks India’s remarkable journey from an importer of medical coveralls until the Covid-19 outbreak to an exporter now — all in a matter of few months.

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal tweeted: “Boosting Make in India exports, PPE medical coveralls for COVID-19 have been allowed with a monthly export quota of 50 lakh.” Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently cited the turnaround in PPE manufacturing in India to highlight the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” initiative.

The export of medical coveralls was “prohibited” earlier but now it has been put in the “restricted” category. However, exports of other items that are part of PPE kits would continue to remain prohibited, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification.

Last week, Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) chairman A Sakthivel said the production of the PPE kits had reached a record level of eight lakh units per day from zero four months ago. The apparel industry is currently the largest producer of such PPEs.

Making a case for the lifting of the export ban on PPEs to enable Indian companies to take advantage of rising global demand during the pandemic, Sakthivel had said Pakistan, another major garment producer, recently got PPE orders worth $100 million. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has created an ‘air bridge’ to quickly get medical supplies like 2.25 million PPEs exported from Vietnam, he added.

The DGFT on Monday said eligibility criteria of applicants wishing to ship out such products will be separately mentioned in a trade notice.

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