Exporters in Vietnam will need licences from local authorities to export face masks during the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic, according to a newly issued directive.
In the directive, the Vietnamese government assigns the Ministry of Health to apply the export licensing policy to medical masks.
Medical masks are only allowed for export for the purpose of international aid and assistance.
In addition, the export amount shall not exceed 25 percent of the country’s output of medical masks, while the remaining 75 percent must be ensured for domestic COVID-19 prevention.
The licensing requirement is not applicable to the export activities of enterprises specializing in the production of export goods that were already granted investment certificates, and companies manufacturing medical masks for foreign traders that have signed processing contracts before March 1, 2020.
The government has charged the Ministry of Health with taking the prime responsibility and coordinating with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance in issuing dossiers and procedures for granting export permits for medical masks to be used during the prevention of the COVID- 19 outbreak.
The health ministry will also be responsible for giving guidance on standards for medical masks.
The government has also tasked the General Department of Customs under the Ministry of Finance with coordinating the supervision of the exportation of medical masks.
Meanwhile, production facilities are responsible for reporting their production capacity at the request of the Ministry of Health.
Face masks are believed to help in restricting the spread of the COVID-19 although the World Health Organization has persisted that their use alone is of little effect.
Vietnam's big cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City experienced a ‘face mask drought’ in the early phase of the virus epidemic in late January when demand rose, fueled by the fear of infection.
According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the Southeast Asian country has exported VND60 billion (US$2.6 million) worth of face masks since early 2020. Thirty percent of that were shipped to China.
The COVID-19, which first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, has infected over 85,100 people and killed 2,924 globally as of Saturday morning, according to the South China Morning Post.
South Korea has confirmed 16 deaths from 2,931 positive cases so far, becoming the biggest cluster of infections outside China.
To date, Vietnam has reported 16 cases of the viral infection, including 13 Vietnamese, one Vietnamese American, and two Chinese.
All of them have fully recovered and been discharged from the hospital.
The country has recorded no new infection since February 13.