Covid crisis drives 1,800% increase in EU face mask imports

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Luxembourg is the EU country importing the most face masks per capita in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Eurostat finds.

The global coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on world trade, as countries around the world put in place restrictive measures to stem the spread. 

However, this has also led to a huge increase in demand for products to help fight the virus - with face masks being especially in demand.

New figures from Eurostat, the EU's official statistics agency, have revealed just how much this market has grown as the usage of these products has expanded from medical professionals to the general population.

It found that in the first semester of 2019, EU members imported €800 million worth of face masks. However, for the same period in 2020, this had increased to €14 billion - a rise of 1,800 per cent.

As would be expected, the EU's largest members are the biggest spenders on face mask imports, with Germany (€4.4 billion), France (€3.4 billion) and Italy (€1.7 billion) leading the way.

However, Eurostat noted that on a per capita basis, there are some notable differences. By this metric, Luxembourg is the largest importer of face masks, spending $121 per person. This has been driven by government policies that include the widespread distribution of face masks to the population.

Meanwhile, Belgium, Germany and France spent the next highest amounts per capita, while at the bottom of the table are Greece and Bulgaria, which spent just €6 and €3 per person respectively.

The significant increase in demand has also had an impact on where EU countries are sourcing their masks from, with China in particular growing its market share. 

In 2019, 62.3 per cent of imported masks came from the Asian nation, but this increased to 92.3 per cent in 2020.

The big losers in terms of market share as a result of this were Vietnam (down from 8.2 per cent to 1.9 per cent) and the UK (5.6 per cent to 0.7 per cent).