Vietnam emerges as one of new PPE suppliers globally: IFC

A woman works at a face mask manufacturing company. Vietnam’s PPE manufacturing capacity surged six-fold in 2020 - PHOTO: VNA

Vietnam has emerged as one of the new personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers globally and its PPE manufacturing capacity surged six-fold last year, according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.

This ramped-up supply was initially driven by textile manufacturers shifting production in response to the health emergency during the Covid-19 pandemic and to mitigate losses caused by canceled orders for garments.

"Some textile manufacturers who started producing PPE products as an immediate response to the pandemic, are now considering the medium to longer-term business opportunity in this area," said Vu Duc Giang, chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association.

"However, local manufacturers have struggled with insufficient input materials, technical skills and sector knowledge and the disparity between local and international standards to access the global market,” he added.

In response, as part of the global PPE advisory program supported by the UK Government, IFC is working with local garment manufacturers through the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association and national labs through the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality of Vietnam, IFC announced on June 9.

The aim is to improve PPE producers' operations and reduce costs by removing unnecessary burdens related to PPE standards and conformity assessments.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has tested the resilience of supply chains to the limit, especially in terms of medical supplies, including PPE. The UK believes that the diversification of PPE manufacturing will make the global supply chain more adaptable and prevent future disruption," said Gareth Ward, British Ambassador to Vietnam.

"I am very pleased that Vietnam has been chosen as a priority country for this UK government-funded program. Vietnamese companies have a lot of potential to succeed globally with a skilled labor force," he added.

Over the next 18 months, the program will support select manufacturers to scale quality PPE production, access the reliable supply of materials and equipment and achieve PPE international standards and certification to expand exports.

According to Kyle Kelhofer, IFC country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, access to cost-effective and quality PPE products is vital to the national Covid-19 response, helping to contain and manage the spread of the coronavirus.

"Promoting the production of PPE products in compliance with international standards not only helps increase Vietnam's resilience to the pandemic, but also presents a business case as the PPE global supply chain is diversifying with opportunities for new manufacturers from emerging markets including Vietnam,” he said.

The Saigon Times -