Karachi, April 13, 2020: The Chairman Pakistan Soap Manufacturers Association (PSMA) Zafar Mehmood said that Soaps and hand sanitizers are the only products that have been found effective for protection against the spread of coronavirus.
Owing to rapid spread of Covid19, the global demand of general consumer goods has decreased substantially. Resultantly, Pakistan’s exports are expected to drop by over US$4 billion during the current fiscal year.
As against this, the demand of essential goods has surged manifold. Certain items like soap and hand sanitizers are in acute shortage all over the world. It is indeed a good time to capitalize on this opportunity and start exporting these essential goods which will help the country in minimizing the shortfall in exports.
Pakistan has surplus production capacity of soap. The surplus can be exported. Few members are regularly exporting soap to Afghanistan, which is currently stopped due to stoppage of movement of containers to Afghanistan. The Government has recently decided to facilitate the movement of cargo trucks and containers to cross-over to Afghanistan through Torkham and Chaman borders thrice a week. A similar mechanism may also be devised for direct exports from Pakistan to Afghanistan.
He further said the basic raw material for hand sanitizer is Ethanol. Pakistan’s production of Ethanol is approx. 500,000 tons per annum and less than 5% of this is consumed within the country while 95% is exported. It is urged to remove the ban on export of hand sanitizers and allow the industry to produce and export hand sanitizers. The export of Ethanol should be controlled by giving first priority to local production. Only surplus capacity after meeting domestic demand should be allowed for exports.
PSMA Chairman further pointed out that Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan has recently issued a notification and has taken over the control of hand sanitizers as regulated item like it does for pharmaceutical products and only allowing pharmaceutical companies to produce. Hand sanitizer is a personal care product like soap, which requires certain quality standards.
PSQCA has already set standards for personal care, food and number of other products and is strictly monitoring it. Hand sanitizers should also be given under PSQCA’s domain. Hence DRAP’s notification on regulating hand sanitizers must immediately be withdrawn.