Beijing — China’s export dominance during the coronavirus pandemic is best reflected by the item that’s become essential in protecting against the virus: masks.

Factories exported 224-billion masks from March to end-December 2020, equal to almost 40 masks for every person in the world outside China, Li Kuiwen, an official from the General Administration of Customs, told reporters on Thursday.

The shipments were worth 340-billion yuan ($52bn), about 2% of all Chinese exports in 2020.

Chinese firms also exported almost 100-billion yuan worth of other personal protective equipment, Li said. In total, exports of medical equipment and medicines rose 31% in 2020 compared to 2019, he said.

Demand for masks, hospital suits and gowns, ventilators and other pandemic-related goods was a key driver of China’s record export performance in 2020, along with computers and other work-from-home equipment needed for locked-down populations around the world.

With countries from the US to Japan now battling new virus waves and imposing new restrictions, sales of masks and other protective goods will only continue to soar.

“Demand for China’s goods may remain strong in the next few months with the recent surge in Covid-19 infections in the US and Europe,” said Ding Shuang, chief China economist at Standard Chartered in Hong Kong.


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