Key face mask material can now be exported

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Key face mask material can now be exported

Filters used on face masks manufactured at a plant in Pocheon, Gyeonggi, in February, just before the huge spike in the number of confirmed cases in March. [YONHAP]

Filters used on face masks manufactured at a plant in Pocheon, Gyeonggi, in February, just before the huge spike in the number of confirmed cases in March. [YONHAP]

 
Non-woven fabric, a key material in filter masks, can now be exported as the supply in Korea has stabilized.  
 
The liberalization will be limited, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Wednesday, with exports capped at 15 percent of February production levels. It will also be temporary, with the lifting of the ban to end on Jan. 5.
 
The government will allow both the export of meltblown fabric and spunbond fabric, also known as spunbond meltblown spunbond (SMS).
 
The details on the amount that can be exported will be decided in coordination with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety depending on domestic supply, price and inventories.
 
Companies allowed to export the nonwoven fabrics will be manufacturers or exporters with direct contracts with manufacturers. Retail companies will not be permitted to export the material.  
 
This is to prevent a massive outflow of the essential materials.  
 
The government banned masks exports on March 5 after hoarding was observed, imports from China dropped and manufacturers struggled to meet the growing demand.
 
A rationing system was adopted, whereby people were limited to buying two masks a week through approved sales channels. That system was abandoned last month as the number of new infections started to drop.
 
BY LEE HO-JEONG   [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]

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