No plans to limit export of anti-virus supplies, says China

It says goods will be inspected to ensure quality standards

April 16, 2020 10:16 pm | Updated April 17, 2020 10:08 am IST - BEIJING

A file photo of employees working on a production line of surgical masks in Nanchang, China.

A file photo of employees working on a production line of surgical masks in Nanchang, China.

China will not restrict exports of medical goods needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic , a government spokesman said on Thursday, amid global tension over scarce masks and ventilators.

China , the biggest maker of surgical masks and other products, announced last week it would start inspecting exports to make sure they meet quality standards following Western complaints some test kits and other products were faulty.

“China has not and will not restrict the export of epidemic prevention materials,” said a Commerce Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng.

The government hasn’t responded to questions about whether inspections might increase the time required to fill foreign orders, but Mr. Gao said Beijing has taken steps to “speed up customs clearance” while “ensuring the export quality of epidemic prevention materials.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said this month he would try to block manufacturing giant 3M Co. from exporting N95 masks. 3M warned other governments might retaliate and said later an agreement was reached to allow foreign sales.

The Chinese customs agency said last week it would start treating masks, ventilators, surgical gowns, goggles and other supplies as medical goods.

That requires exporters to submit proof that their products are approved by regulators in destination countries. The government said goods will be inspected to confirm they meet quality standards.

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