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S. Korea allows export of all protective face masks

National 15:09 September 15, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea allowed the export of all types of face masks that can be used to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday amid sufficient domestic supply, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) said.

The move comes as supplies of surgical and anti-droplet masks in the country have stabilized.

Seoul had banned mask exports as it experienced acute shortages amid a spike in COVID-19 cases earlier in the year, although it did authorize half of the medical masks made in the country to be shipped abroad from May.

The KFDA said that for the seven days starting on Sept. 7, the country produced 273.1 million masks, which is enough to meet local needs.

This file photo shows a mask production factory in Yongin, 50 kilometers south of Seoul, churning out face coverings used to help stem the spread of COVID-19. (Yonhap)

It said a rise in supply of all types of masks has caused prices for high-protection KF-94 medical masks to fall to 1,149 won (US$0.97) as of Thursday from 1,216 won a month earlier.

The government said that while exports of all masks will be allowed, outbound shipment quotas will be set for each manufacturer starting Tuesday to guard against sudden shortages. Exports cannot exceed 50 percent of masks produced by companies in a two-month period.

"The changes are expected to permit market mechanisms to take effect that can end excessive inventory issues faced by some manufacturers due to a drop in sales and make it possible for companies here to export their products to countries that are in need of South Korean-made masks," a KFDA official said.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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