China has largely recovered from the impact of the novel coronavirus. The number of new infections has sharply declined, and life has started going back to normal. Unfortunately, the epicenter of the virus has now shifted to Europe and the US. Healthcare systems in these countries are on the brink of being overwhelmed, and there is an acute shortage of medical supplies—PPE (personal protective equipment) included!
In this post, we will look into PPE shortages and establish whether China may be able to help other countries who are in dire need of supplies.
The need for PPE
PPE includes gloves, earplugs, coveralls, full-body suits, respirators, face shields, and glasses. Broadly speaking, personal protective equipment is used by workers in different industries to minimize the risk of illnesses and injuries. These injuries aren’t always physical. PPE also shields you from chemical, electrical, and radiological hazards that may arise as a result of workplace activities.
However, ever since the coronavirus pandemic surfaced, the use of PPE has become more crucial than ever. PPE is needed by healthcare workers, in particular, to minimize the risk of contracting the virus.
COVID-19 is highly contagious and transmits through respiratory air droplets. Since healthcare workers are dealing with infected patients 24 hours a day, they need to protect themselves. Other than healthcare workers, PPE may also be needed by other high-risk frontline workers, such as law-enforcement officials.
The curious case of PPE shortage
According to the CDC
, supplies of PPE across the world are either highly tenuous or running out. As the crisis reaches its peak in many countries, this shortage is expected to worsen. If this happens, it may become increasingly difficult for healthcare workers to continue practicing.
According to another report by WHO
, the PPE shortage is one of the biggest global challenges the world is facing in its efforts to save lives. Even though the World Health Organization has shipped as many as two million pieces of PPE to over 74 countries, it’s still not enough.
The organization is preparing to send more, but is still worried the number won’t suffice. The report further stated that presently, every country needs PPE equally.
As of March 24th, it was reported that certain doctors in New York and California have even started reusing the masks out of necessity and shortage. In many countries like the UK, healthcare workers have started protesting against the shortage. This resulted in the hashtag #GetMePPE trending on social media across different countries.
As per another report by the Guardian
, doctors in the UK have threatened to quit the NHS if they are not provided with an adequate supply of PPE. The concern makes sense. So far, at least 10,000 healthcare workers
have fallen prey to the virus in the US alone. In the UK, at least 100 healthcare
workers have died at the hands of the virus.
Can China help?
Although China received significant criticism for being the origin of the virus, its medical supplies exports have been a ray of hope for many countries. According to a report, China is producing as many as 116 million masks
a day! This is 12 times greater than what the country was mass-producing before the outbreak. In short, the world is relying on China’s PPE production in a number of ways.
One of China’s most influential entrepreneurs, Jack Ma, has been particularly active in donating PPE and masks to the US and Europe. That’s not all either; the country has also offered to increase exports of face masks and PPE.
At the moment, there are two different types of buyers that are directly buying PPE from China:
a.Companies that want to buy PPE from China in bulk and resell them for a higher price back in their own country.
b.Medical groups and hospitals that need PPE for their healthcare staff’s safety.
How to export PPE from China?
This brings us to the main point of concern. If you are selling to either of the two categories, here are a few points to consider:
Let’s take the example of the UK. The British embassy in Beijing
has instructed businesses to only deal with large healthcare distributors when it comes to PPE exports. The embassy has strictly forbidden businesses to engage with any sort of activity with market intermediaries since these are more focused on selling pre-existing stock.
Other than that, the embassy has also informed British businesses that custom requirements in China are changing and becoming increasingly complex in light of the novel coronavirus. As a Chinese exporter, you need to be wary of all of these considerations.
Moreover, the Chinese government now requires all PPE, testing kits, and other medical supplies to go through extensive commodity inspection and other procedures. This may further slow down the customs process. The authorities are strictly checking whether the company exporting the PPE is authorized and licensed to do so.
Lastly, you also need to make sure the PPE that is to be shipped matches the description written in the customs paperwork.
According to a report by Forbes
, China has tightened its export regulations when it comes to PPE and other medical supplies. Your importer will have to attest the shipment and declare that it doesn’t contain any shoddy goods. As an exporter, you also need to make sure that the PPE is of good quality. If it doesn’t comply with even one of the above-mentioned regulations, your shipment may not be allowed to leave China at all.
If you’re a Chinese exporter who wishes to help other countries that are in need, Business China will help you do so! We are a company registry service
that also helps entrepreneurs deal with the legal aspects of doing business with China. We also help entrepreneurs set up their WFOEs, Joint Ventures, and Representative Offices in China. You can request an initial consultation now