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Morocco gives green light to export of disposable masks

Neighbouring country's authorities will supply Europe with surplus disposable masks after reaching a daily production of ten million units
Moulay Hafid Elalamy (center), Morocco's Minister of Industry, visits a protective mask factory in Casablanca on April 10, 2020

AFP/ FADEL SENNA  -   Moulay Hafid Elalamy (center), Morocco's Minister of Industry, visits a protective mask factory in Casablanca on April 10, 2020

Authorities in the neighbouring country have announced the start of exports of disposable masks against coronavirus infection. According to the Moroccan Minister of Industry, Moulay Hafid Elalamy, the 50 million masks in stock and a daily production that reaches 10 million units guarantee the supply for the local market and allow to start selling abroad. Europe, where the shortage of this medical material has caused situations of tension and concern, will be the first destination of the non-woven fabric masks of 100% Moroccan production. A blow from the neighbouring country in the middle of a pandemic.

"We have decided to open up to export. Industrialists need to export in order to preserve their production capacities," said the head of Industry, Trade and Green and Digital Economy on Monday before Parliament. The success of the mass production of these masks in record time is due to the involvement of the Moroccan textile sector. "The masks that will be exported are manufactured by the 23 factories dedicated to this purpose and will be subject to controls to verify their quality," Elalamy added. However, the minister pointed out that sales abroad would be suspended if the evaluation of internal demand required a reinforcement of domestic stocks, the daily Le Matin du Sahara et du Maghreb reported. 

France will be, according to the minister's declarations on Monday in the parliament, the first market for hygienic and non-medical Moroccan masks. Although no other names have been released, Elalamy referred in the plural to the various countries that have already expressed their desire to acquire the Moroccan masks, as stated by the digital media Le360. The disposable masks can be acquired in Moroccan pharmacies - they are subsidised by the solidarity fund launched by King Mohamed VI - at a price of 80 dirhams cents, the equivalent of 7 euro cents, per unit.

Moulay Hafid Elalamy (centro), ministro de Industria de Marruecos, visita una fábrica de mascarillas protectoras en Casablanca el 10 de abril de 2020
AFP/ FADEL SENNA - A factory worker packs disposable protective masks along a production line in Casablanca, Morocco, on 10 April 2020

In addition, the minister announced on Monday that reusable masks of local manufacture will also begin to be exported, whose daily production is currently two million units. However, Elalamy pointed out that the condition is that 50% of the production of these washable masks will remain in the local market. 

Another source of pride for our neighbours in these weeks of health crisis is that of the 100% Moroccan respirators, whose manufacture was also announced by the minister in Parliament on Monday. In addition, Elalamy announced that a second generation of respirators is already being tested by a commission of experts.

On the other hand, the minister said that the automotive, textile and agro-food sectors have already resumed their activity. This will be supervised in each industrial centre by a mixed committee of representatives from various ministries in order to guarantee that safety protocols are complied with and thereby avoid the spread of the coronavirus, echoed the aforementioned Le Matin. 

In the meantime, the viral pandemic is continuing in Morocco: at the time of writing, there were 6,466 confirmed cases and 188 deaths attributed to COVID-19 infection. The number of screening tests carried out now exceeds 74,200, but is still far from the forecasts of the local authorities. Initially, the state of health emergency will be in force until 20 May.