China exported more than 220 billion masks last year, according to the Ministry of Commerce on Friday, equivalent to 40 masks for every person outside China, in light of the high demand for protective equipment greatly due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
Getting millions of dollars in exchange for masks has become a major driver of Chinese exports after Covid-19 nearly froze economic activity in early 2020 and negatively affected growth.
Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Camping told reporters Friday that in addition to masks, China exported 2.3 billion pieces of protective equipment and one billion units of Covid-19 testing equipment last year, “in an important contribution to the global battle against the epidemic.”
A customs official said earlier this month that the value of mask shipments alone amounted to 340 billion yuan (52.6 billion dollars).
Customs spokesman Li Koyuen said the volume was “equal to providing about 40 masks for every person in the world outside China.”
China, where Covid-19 first appeared in late 2019, was the first country in the world to recover after it imposed strict lockdown measures and measures to contain the virus.
It is expected to be the first major economic power in the world to achieve positive growth for the year 2020. However, Ministry of Commerce official Zhu Shijia said Friday that China is still facing a “difficult and complex” environment in terms of foreign trade and investment this year.