Pakistani manufacturers hope to earn $2 billion by exporting PPEs, hand sanitizers

A shopkeeper wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) holds a disinfectant at the entrance of a shop after the government eased the nationwide lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Rawalpindi on May 11, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 03 July 2020

Pakistani manufacturers hope to earn $2 billion by exporting PPEs, hand sanitizers

  • The country’s exports declined in the beginning of the year due to the outbreak of coronavirus
  • Some businessmen say Pakistan could have captured more market share by exporting these products earlier

KARACHI: Pakistani manufacturers hope to generate $2 billion by exporting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizers after the government granted them permission to sell these products in international market last week, exporters told Arab News on Thursday.

“We have set a target of $2 billion for this year and started exporting PPEs and hand sanitizers,” Ijaz Khokhar, chief coordinator of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA), said.

Pakistani manufacturers informed they were getting inquiries from international buyers who wanted to purchase these products much before the formal export began on June 26.

“We shared export samples with our potential buyers, got them approved and agreed on their rates,” Khokhar continued. “The export of face masks is still banned and we are seeking permission for that.”

According to government officials, the country has so far received $100 million of orders. “We expect this figure to cross $500 million in the coming months,” Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said in a Twitter post last month.

Pakistani exporters expressed hope that their new foray into the international market would help the country compensate for its export losses due to cancelations of orders after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

“Pakistani businesses suffered significant losses after the virus outbreak since many of the buyers canceled their export orders due to shrinking demand of different products. These PPEs and hand sanitizers will compensate the country for its losses,” Khokhar noted.

The country mainly plans to export PPEs to the Gulf countries, though it is also trying to explore the US and European markets.

“Our exports are mainly meant for the Gulf region. Exporters have applied for CE certification [to show conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products] which is mandatory for the European Union and are trying to secure the required approval from the Food and Drug Administration of the United States,” Khokhar said, adding: “Both are expected within a week. It will make it easier for us to export to these regions after that.”

Some exporters believe, however, that Pakistan may not be able to capture a major chunk of the market since it is getting into the game a bit late in the day.

“Many manufacturers and suppliers from other countries have also entered the market where there was a huge vacuum just a couple of months ago. Pakistan’s late decision in this regard is also expected to cut its market share. Export should have started at least a month earlier,” Muhammad Jawed Bilwani, chairman of Pakistan Apparel Forum, told Arab News.

In early June 2020, under its “make in Pakistan” strategy, the government decided to allow export of PPEs after the country’s textile sector changed its production strategy and started manufacturing face masks and protective suits. Exports of Tyvek suits, N95 and other surgical masks still remain banned.

“I advised him (Razak Dawood) in April to focus on PPE export and he followed up, opening a new window of opportunity for Pakistani companies,” Shoaib A. Kothawala, a leading textile entrepreneur from Pakistan who is now based in the US, told Arab News from California.

“Pakistan has a comparative advantage in the personal protective equipment (PPE) market,” a senior World Bank economist, Gonzalo Varela, recently claimed.

“Many textile and apparel firms have adapted quickly to the COVID-19 crisis and shifted their production to face masks and shields for health care providers and frontline workers at home and abroad,” he wrote in a blog posted at the WB website.

At least 30 injured in grenade attack in Pakistan at Kashmir rally

Updated 05 August 2020

At least 30 injured in grenade attack in Pakistan at Kashmir rally

  • The attack was claimed by Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army, a separatist outfit that has become active in the past months
  • Organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious right party, the rally was called off after the attack

KARACHI: At least 30 people were injured in a grenade attack on a rally in Karachi on Wednesday, as Pakistan marked the first anniversary of India’s revocation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomy.
The wounded were rushed to different hospitals, where one was in a critical condition, an official from the provincial health department said.
“A grenade was lobbed in the rally, causing several casualties,” Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon told Reuters.
The attack was claimed by Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army, a separatist outfit that has become active in the past months.
In June, four people were killed including two soldiers in three consecutive explosions claimed by the SRA.
The group wants Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, to break from the Pakistani federation. It has also announced its alliance with the Balochistan Liberation Army, a militant group fighting for greater autonomy for the Balochistan region in southwestern Pakistan.
The attack took place as similar rallies were held across the country. The Karachi rally, organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious right party, was called off after the attack.
Last August, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Jammu and Kashmir — India’s only Muslim-majority state — of its special rights and split it into two federally administered territories.
The government said the change was necessary to develop the revolt-torn region and integrate it with the rest of India, but it infuriated many Kashmiris as well as neighboring Pakistan.
Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan, which have gone to war twice over it, and both rule parts of it.
Indian authorities deployed troops and curbed public movement on Wednesday to stop potential protests in Kashmir.