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Jordan produces half-a-billion masks since onset of pandemic

Boxes filled with masks are seen at a garment factory that switched to producing masks during the pandemic. (Photo: Jordan News)
Boxes filled with masks are seen at a garment factory that switched to producing masks during the pandemic. (Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Faced with shocking new circumstances as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, the Jordanian garment industry rapidly pivoted to producing face masks to reduce the spread of the virus.اضافة اعلان

Local factories have produced around half a billion masks since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Ehab Qadiri, representative of the leather and clothing sector at Amman Chamber of Industry.

Qadiri told the Jordan News Agency, Petra, that the Kingdom has surplus quantities of medical masks ready for exporting, adding that last year, around 100 million masks were exported to 30 global markets around the world, at a value of over 16 million JD.

Over the course of the pandemic, the country went from producing around 20,000 masks a day to more than 5 million masks a day, according to Musa Saket, vice chair and CEO of the Alia Group and founder of the “Made in Jordan” campaign. “That of course is an opportunity for us to export,” said Saket in an interview with Jordan News.

Saket explained that the Jordanian free trade agreement with the United States set up the Kingdom for success when it came to exporting masks. “We have exported around a billion dollars’ worth of goods to the United States of America almost yearly,” he said. The strength of that existing trade relationship made it easy to begin exporting masks after garment factories transitioned to making masks.

“If there wasn’t a good export market before, it would have been very difficult” to switch garment factories from making their usual clothing items to making masks, according to Saket. He called the FTA and the strong trade relationship with the US the “secret” to Jordan’s success with exports, even at a time when many markets were closed and economic sectors suffered.  

“This was a chance and opportunity for us to produce goods of course, for Jordan, to actually accommodate the pandemic, and to find new export markets,” he said. He explained that during the pandemic, most consumers prioritized buying food rather than garments, causing the industry to suffer. “Garment exports decreased dramatically. So this was a compensation, for these industries to produce the masks,” Saket said.

He added that while there have been a few new factories created to meet the demand for masks, for the most part the garment industry has remained at the same size.

“It’s the same workers that were working in the garment industry, just shifted to working on lines to produce masks,” he said. “There was no new industry that opened to produce masks, just existing industries that changed their efforts from garments to masks.”

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