(Bloomberg) -- China’s export dominance during the coronavirus pandemic is best reflected by the item that’s become essential in protecting against the virus: face masks.
Factories exported 224 billion of masks from March through December, equal to almost 40 masks for every person in the world outside of China, Li Kuiwen, an official from the General Administration of Customs, told reporters Thursday. The shipments were worth 340 billion yuan ($52 billion), which is about 2% of all Chinese exports in 2020.
Chinese firms also exported almost 100 billion-yuan worth of other personal protective equipment, Li said. In total, exports of medical equipment and medicines rose 31% last year compared to 2019, he said.
Demand for masks, hospital suits and gowns, ventilators and other pandemic-related goods was a key driver of China’s record export performance in 2020, along with computers and other work-from-home equipment needed for locked-down populations around the world.
Read more: China’s Trade Surplus Hits Record as Pandemic Fuels Exports
With countries from the U.S. to Japan now battling new virus waves and re-imposing restrictions, sales of masks and other protective goods will only continue to soar.
“Demand for China’s goods may remain strong in the next few months with the recent surge in Covid infections in the U.S. and Europe,” according to Ding Shuang, chief China economist at Standard Chartered Plc in Hong Kong.