Skewed allocation mars Vietnam mask supply

By Anh Minh   March 18, 2020 | 05:00 pm PT
Skewed allocation mars Vietnam mask supply
Workers manufacture masks at a factory in Thai Nguyen Province. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
Amid a surge in supply, locally produced face masks remain scarce across Vietnam due to distribution challenges.

Ngo Khai Hoan, deputy director of the Industry Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said in the first three months local manufacturers would provide 57 million garment masks, raised to 100 million if needed.

As Chinese textile factories have resumed operation, Vietnamese manufacturers could again source materials from there, he said at a recent meeting.

"Vietnam’s textile industry is totally capable of producing masks for domestic demand and export."

However, local consumers still have to queue up for masks, with some stores allowing only five or ten masks per person.

The item has experienced higher demand since March 16 when Vietnam made it mandatory to wear masks in public.

This gap between supply and demand was caused by a lack of communication between manufacturers and distributors, Hoan said.

Most manufacturers are clothes producer who only began making masks this year due to surging demand, therefore still lacking suitable sales channels.

He proposed the government buys masks from these manufacturers and sell them to consumers.

Truong Van Cam, deputy director of Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS), said a government purchase would close the gap between supply and demand, allowing all consumers to access to the product.  

Trade minister Tran Tuan Anh said if the government buys up these masks it would distribute them free of charge to the poor and sick.

Vietnam has seen rising demand for face masks since the new coronavirus outbreak commenced as locals seek protection from the virus that has infected 75 people in the country as of Wednesday.

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