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S. Korea to permit export of protective face masks

National 18:41 September 10, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will allow the export of face masks that can be used to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) said Thursday.

The move comes as supplies of surgical and anti-droplet masks in the country have stabilized and earlier shortages have been resolved, the state administration said. Seoul had banned mask exports as it experienced acute shortages amid a spike in COVID-19 cases earlier in the year.

Under the changes that will go into effect on Tuesday, the government will allow masks to be made and sold freely under market rules and end mandatory supply for public use. In the past, 80 percent of all protective masks had to be diverted for public distribution.

Medical institutions that experience any kind of shortages will continue to receive support, the KFDA said.

Shoppers at a large discount store in Seoul pass by face masks on Sept. 10, 2020. The government said it will allow local manufacturers to export surgical and anti-droplet face masks starting next week. (Yonhap)

It said while exports will be allowed, outbound shipment quotas will be set for each manufacturer. Exports cannot exceed 50 percent of masks produced by companies in a two month period. In addition, restrictions will be implemented to prevent local businesses from buying up masks sold in the domestic market for export.

"The changes are expected to allow market mechanisms to take effect that can allow the setting of appropriate prices and regulation of supply based on demand," a KFDA source said.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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