Economy September 12, 2020 | 12:01 pm

Exports from the Dominican Republic of medical products for COVID-19 increase 10%

Exports from the Dominican Republic of medical supplies that can be used for COVID-19 increased by 10.3% in the first half of this year, going from US $ 446.08 million in the same period of 2019 to US $ 492.71 million from January to June 2020, for an absolute increase of US $ 46.63 million.

96% of these exports come from companies in free zones. The United States is the leading export destination for free zone medical products for COVID-19, with 61% of the total. Other countries, such as Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, Japan, and Germany, account for 11%, 5%, 4%, and 3%, respectively.

The COVID-19 pandemic has represented an opportunity for free zone companies, which have decided to increase their efforts in the creation of medical products and devices.

One example is that last May, Luisa Fernández, former director of the National Council of Free Zones (CNZF), said that about 20 companies in this sector that were dedicated to the textile industry are now creators of medical devices for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fernández said that these companies used to manufacture bathing suits, t-shirts, shoes, and other products. At the same time, now they have reinvented themselves and also manufacture surgical uniforms and other medical devices.

Increases. In the first half of 2019 and 2020, the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Netherlands represented the three main destination markets for these Free Zone medical products.

Japan is the country to which the exports of these products have increased more drastically compared to the same months of the previous year, going from US $ 0.06 million to US $ 17.49 million, which represents an increase of 29.142%, according to a report by the Office of Advisory, Consulting, and Investigations (ICAO).

These exports are carried out mainly through three ports: Haina Oriental, Santo Domingo, and Puerto Multimodal Caucedo, which in the first semester handled 88% of exports, totaling US $ 416.1 million.

73% of exports of medical products from free zones in the period January-June 2020 belong to the category of “other medical devices and equipment,” with a total amount of US $ 343.30 million. 100% of the exports in this category are stethoscopes, whose demand has increased by 21.60% in relation to the first half of 2019.

Exports of protective clothing and other similar items have increased by 11%, those of disinfectants and sterilization products 131%, and that of Oxygen therapy equipment and pulse oximeters 6%.

The most significant increase observed is disinfectants and sterilization products, whose exports have increased by 131%, and protective clothing and other similar items have increased by 11%. But exports of oxygen therapy equipment and pulse oximeters fell 11%, as well as lower percentages in “Other medical consumables and diagnostic test equipment” at a decrease of 6%.

Within the category of disinfectants and sterilization products, the hydrogen peroxide product is the one with the highest participation, constituting 81.64% of the exports of this category within the free zones for the first semester of 2020.

In comparison with the same last year’s period, this product has increased its offer by 141%, from US $ 13.13 million to US $ 31.75 million.