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Vietnam's Textile Industry Exported 1.37bn Face Masks in 2020

During a year when Vietnam’s textile industry was hurt by plummeting demand, local producers found a silver lining in face masks.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs recently revealed statistics showing that in 2020, Vietnam exported over 1.37 billion face masks in different variations, reports Phu Nu. Last month, 30 enterprises across the country shipped nearly 71 million face masks overseas, even though the volume dropped significantly due to the beginning of COVID-19 vaccinations in a number of markets.

The first four months of 2020 saw a nationwide shortage of masks as the first wave of COVID-19 infections caused panic buying and hoarding. However, as the situation gradually improved and new cases started to taper off, mask production stabilized and Vietnam was able to start exporting in May, with 181 million units shipped.

June’s total export volume was the largest of the year, at 236 million units. Export volumes were maintained at a steady range of 140 to 170 million face masks on a monthly basis from July to November.

According to Nikkei Asia, Vietnam is the world’s third-biggest textiles exporter after India and China, so a reduction in orders during the worst pandemic months really hurt the local sector. A number of producers, however, were able to pivot to face masks, the production of which helped them stay afloat.

For Vietnam, face masks are not only a trusted form of protection against fine particles and pathogens, they are also tools for the country’s “mask diplomacy.” In April, the state government donated a total of 550,000 antibacterial masks to the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Three months later, Hanoi also gifted 100,000 cloth masks and 50,000 medical-grade masks to the government of New York City.

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