Struggle to Stay in Market
After international complaints about low grade products, Chinese authorities now demand a certificate of quality for those looking to export masks, which has also hit some of the smaller producers.
Between March and May, China exported more than 50 billion face masks — a tenfold increase for total production last year, according to analysts.
The government used mask donations as a propaganda tool described by analysts as “mask diplomacy” to deflect blame for the virus.
However, global friction has also had an impact on the ease of business.
Exports to the United States are done via a third country due to soaring diplomatic tensions between Washington and Beijing, CCST’s Yang said.
But China is set to remain the world’s top mask provider, according to analysts, with the big companies ramping up production as the virus continues its global march.
US producer 3M said last month it was on track to produce two billion N95 masks in 2020, effectively doubling production rates.
“There will still be a demand from the US and a lot of other countries in the rest of Asia and the EU that are unable to sustain their own mask supply,” said Wilfred Yuen, an analyst at BOCI bank in Hong Kong, adding that more sub-quality mask makers will continue to be whittled out of the market.
“As demand for masks gradually slows or supply of better-quality masks increases, those inferior suppliers will struggle to stay in the market.”