Most economic industries, including garment and textile, have been hit hard by the (Coronavirus) COVID-19 outbreak. When the epidemic broke out in China, Vietnamese garment and textile businesses faced interruption in the supply of raw clothing materials from China.
At the end of March and early April, the input material supplies have gradually resumed their flow but it was also the time when the COVID-19 hit Europe and the US, causing a decrease in purchasing demand among the markets for Vietnam’s garment and textile products.
In this context, the production of face masks has become a solution for Vietnamese garment and textile businesses to maintain their operation as well as employment and income for workers, thus mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.
In addition, the production of face masks does not require much investment. Essentially, every textile workshop with existing equipment and workers can produce masks in large quantities.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, 50 domestic producers which reported to the ministry alone had a total production capacity of eight million face masks per day, or about 200 million a month.
Previously, the domestic firms had to rely on imported materials such as antibacterial fabrics or chemical substances. However, they now can produce antibacterial fabrics made from domestically biological materials. Therefore, Vietnamese businesses’ face mask production capacity is huge, much higher than the domestic demand.
While the face mask demand in the foreign markets is increasing rapidly, it is time for domestic producers to grasp the opportunity. Still, priority must be given to meeting the domestic demand, but it was also necessary to take the opportunity to boost exports.
In order to support Vietnamese firms in developing face masks production, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has worked to connect cloth mask producers with distribution agencies, commercial centers, and supermarkets to boost domestic consumption of the product.
Now, as the capacity Vietnamese businesses’ face mask production has been expanded enough to exceed the domestic demand, the Ministry has instructed Vietnamese trade offices abroad to seek business partners to export these items to the host countries.
Although Vietnam is fully capable to become the world’s cloth face mask factory, further careful consideration when investing in face mask production as a long-term or large-scale investment is still needed.
Firstly, face masks have risen to become an essential item during the COVID-19 outbreak, but demand for the product could drop when the pandemic was over. Thus, it is a seasonal product with low stability. Secondly, face mask producers must pay attention to meeting quality and safety requirements of the import markets and obtain certificates to expand exports.