When the United States was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic a year and a half ago, hundreds of garment manufacturers globally changed their production to produce significant PPE. It also assists the US government in its efforts to protect frontline workers.
Then when Chinese manufacturing returns to normal, cheap imports of PPE products increased unprecedentedly. This is because US PPE manufacturers are either shutting down their operations or have already closed their doors.
According to The Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA), the USA has imported US $ 10.68 billion worth of PPE products during Jan.-May ’21, noting a 284 percent surge on a Y-o-Y basis.
Face mask and shield imports under 6 HS Codes 3926909950, 6307909845, 6307909850, 6307909870, 6307909875, and 6307909891 still remained one of the most sought PPE products by the US buyers, the value of which stood at the US $ 2.07 billion in Jan-May ’21 period.
China’s share in the face mask shipment was as high as $1.41 billion that’s approximately 68.20 percent of the total face masks’ import value of the USA.
On the other side, during the first 5-month period of 2021, nonwoven disposable apparel contributed US $929.19 million of the total PPE import value under HS Code 6210105000 in which two types of products were imported isolation gowns and disposable apparel.
Of total nonwoven disposable apparel imports, China’s contribution was $ 717.95 million that is around 77.90 percent share!
As China’s authority in PPE shipment to the USA is increasing, several reports say the livelihood of the new US mask producers is at risk.
According to The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA), in the last couple of months, as many as 1,500 workers were laid off at a Florida-based mask-maker.
Around 470 workers have lost their jobs in Honeywell which is an N-95-making plant in Rhode Island as also cited by Boston Globe and another 200 at a company called Premium PPE in Virginia Beach.