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Top 3 Trends Influencing the Use of Industrial Protective Fabrics

Industrial Protective Fabrics

Top 3 Trends Influencing the Use of Industrial Protective Fabrics

Industrial protective fabrics are a key component in firemen and space suits, utility protective clothing, and healthcare as they offer resistance against superior cuts as well as chemical and hazardous aerosol. The materials are heat as well as flameproof resistant and offer enhanced employee protection and operational efficiency. Advancements in industrialization and increasing workplace accidents will drive the industry forecast over the coming years.

Milliken & Company, DowDupont, W. Barnet GmbH & Co. KG., TenCate Protective Fabrics, and Teijin Limited, are some of the key industrial protective fabric producers. Reportedly, the global industrial protective fabrics market size will reach close to USD 9 billion in remuneration annually, by 2025.

Preference for polyethylene and polypropylene materials

Polyethylene industrial protective fabrics market is expected to be valued at nearly USD 70 million up to 2025, considering its extensive use to manufacture bulletproof vests and add-on inserts, offer ballistic protection in helmets, vehicles, marine vessels, and aircraft armor panels. The demand for the products will be also driven owing to their high impact energy absorption damping as well as exterior properties.

There is a robust adoption of polypropylene fabrics across the medical and hygiene applications as well as protective clothing fabrics for patients and in surgeon drapes, referring to their anti-microbial properties. This can be owed to the provision of chemical, fatigue and heat resistance, along with translucence, semi-rigid toughness, integral hinge properties by the material.

Germany and China to outline the regional landscape

Germany industrial protective fabrics market is projected to hit a CAGR of 6.5% through 2025, taking into account the surge in construction projects resulting from increased expenditure on public infrastructure development and lower interest rate home loans. There is a consistent demand for personal protective clothing across the construction sector as the materials offer protection against falls, struck by an object, and electrical hazards.

China can be regarded as one of the leading consumers of industrial protective fabrics and the regional market is likely to record USD 950 million in yearly revenue by 2025. This is due to government support through initiatives like “Made in China 2025” that has led to increased manufacturing activities. Also, stringent norms such as the “Order no 70 by Law of The People’s Republic of China on Worker’s Safety” has mandated employee safety along with regulating safe manufacturing operations in the region.

Increased demand for safety and protection

Industrial protective fabrics market share from firemen suits is pegged at a 7.5% CAGR in the coming years, as the fabrics assist in air circulation, moisture resistance, and offer flame and chemical protection. Developments in urbanization and infrastructures have led to a higher demand for the firefighting systems.

For instance, Aramar can be touted as an industrial protective fabric specifically crafted for firefighters, forest firefighters, and safety corps. They are designed to provide utmost protection and comfort apart from rendering support in the form of insulation against heat, resistance to fire, wear, and tear.

Demand from cleanroom clothing application is estimated to bring a significant share in the coming years considering the role of the fabrics to limit the travel of particles such as dust, microbes, vapors, and aerosol from the industrial personnel to the external environment. There is a significant rise in R&D activities across the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors leading to the mounting demand for cleanroom facilities.

Directives like Regulation (EU) 2016/425 to provide personal protective equipment have ensured the efficient delivery of quality standards for PPE products across the European continent to offer superior protection against hazards. The products are finding extensive use in the present COVID-19 period. Implementation of OSHA general industry, as well as the construction PPE standards set by the U.S. government, have further driven employee safety.

vaccines

Vaccines Make the case for International Free Trade

Countries are planning to ban exports of vaccines to supply their own citizens first. That trade policy could have several unintended consequences.

With the pandemic already propagated worldwide and several countries experiencing a new rise in infections, governments are starting to focus on real solutions beyond lockdowns and masks. The most prominent of these solutions appears to be the development of a vaccine to treat the virus. However, such a cure brings with it what is called “vaccine nationalism,” which might end backfiring governments’ efforts to control the pandemic.

Vaccine nationalism refers to the action that some countries that are already producing the firsts trials of the potential vaccine could take if they decide to provide it to their own citizens first and prevent other nations from buying the antibody—the WHO has already requested countries to avoid this measure. The organization considers that no one will be safe if there are still outbreaks in other countries. Therefore, vaccination of a sole community without taking into account other countries will be a short-run solution.

Setting aside the public health implications of vaccine nationalism, the implementation of this strategy might have several trade policy consequences, similar to those affecting any other good subject to an export ban. Politicians could have the best intentions of trying to take care of people in their country with this policy. However, they are just considering the immediate effects of closing their borders to the exportation of vaccines and neglecting to consider the potential long-run impact on the whole community.

The total prohibition against exporting a specific good has the direct effect of reducing the final price of the product itself. In economic terms, holding the supply of the product constant, if the demand goes down due to the impossibility of exporting, the price will go down.

No one could be against lowering the price of a vaccine, because that way, more people will be able to buy it. However, this political intervention of the price does not come at no cost. Prices play a crucial role in incentivizing companies to produce whatever they consider profitable. They will be more willing to invest and hurry up the vaccine development if they know that the investments and efforts they put on it will be paid off in the future. If the price of the vaccine goes down because of the export ban, they might decide to reduce those investments and efforts. A 7.5 billion people market is much more incentive than a 300 million market.

There is also an issue with the efficiency of the economy as a whole when the government decides to intervene in foreign trade. As noted earlier, the prohibition against exporting a specific good decreases the incentive to produce that good. Resources and people will be diverted to the production of other goods and services that are more valuable, given the price reduction of the product that has its exports prohibited. The economy probably had a comparative advantage in manufacturing that product, but that will not be exploited fully anymore. Less efficient industries will increase in size at the expense of the most efficient ones. Therefore, the net effect is a change in the structure of the economy and a reduction of its efficiency.

Likewise, this distortion of the economy will probably happen with vaccine nationalism. A country might be relatively more efficient than another in producing a vaccine, maybe manufacturing it cheaply or with higher quality. However, resources will not flow quickly to its manufacturing if its price is held down artificially. Resources and people will be employed in the production of less valuable products, losing the opportunity to produce more efficiently a vaccine.

Restricting exports also presents an indirect consequence of decreasing a country’s imports through the reduction of its purchasing power. Exports pay for imports, and vice versa. The more a country exports, the more it should import. Conversely, reducing exports undercuts imports. Without exports, a nation cannot import. As any other family must sell some goods or services in order to get the purchasing power to buy something else, a country must export to be able to import. There resides the real gain of foreign trade. Through imports, consumers can get from abroad products at lower prices than domestically or goods that they are not capable of finding at home.

If vaccines are banned from being exported, that will mean that the country will see its imports decrease. No vaccines exported will reduce the possibility of importing, say, more ventilators, or masks. Given the novelty of this virus, countries are almost walking in the darkness. There is no certainty of what works and what does not. What happens if the vaccine ends up not working as expected? The government will see itself in a crossroads, with fewer funds to import from abroad products that it might require with urgency.

Finally, vaccine nationalism could have geopolitical consequences as well. The strategy could increase future retaliation from other countries. If the country that decides to prohibit exports of its vaccine then happens to have problems with its implementation, it will not be able to go to another country to ask for help. Again, there is no absolute solution for a global pandemic. Isolating from the rest of the world is undoubtedly the worst idea. 7.5 billion people looking for solutions is better than just 300 million people.

Banning the exportation of vaccines will bring many unintended consequences and end up being a bad strategy in the long run. Given the public attention that a potential cure for the virus possesses, hopefully, governments will understand that international free trade is the solution.

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Mr. Forzani is an MA student in economics at George Mason University.

PPE

COVID-19 Trade Update: FEMA Implements Export Controls and Exclusion Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment

On April 3, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Homeland Security, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”), to utilize the Defense Production Act to restrict the export of scarce domestic materials being used to respond to the spread of COVID-19, including certain personal protective equipment (“PPE”).

Effective Tuesday, April 7, FEMA implemented this Order through a Temporary Final Rule (the “TFR”) that restricts U.S. exports of 5 specific categories of PPE products that were previously designated by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) as “scarce or threatened materials.” Both U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) and FEMA have since issued additional guidance on the TFR that provides further detail on the scope of the restrictions as well as key exclusions for certain U.S. exporters.

The TFR differs from traditional U.S. export control regulations, such as those administered by the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State, in that there is no licensing system in place and FEMA’s determination is not based on the proposed end-use or end-user of the product – rather, FEMA will assess all U.S. exports of designated PPE materials and reallocate those products domestically as required. Because FEMA is not an agency that traditionally administers U.S. export control regulations, it is critical for manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors of PPE products and related medical materials to be aware of the specific articles impacted by the TFR, the scope of the restrictions, the timeline for implementation, consequences for non-compliance, and the potential for expanded product coverage.

PPE Export Restrictions Overview

The TFR providing for PPE export restrictions is effective as of April 7, 2020 for a period of 120 days. The TFR designates 5 of 15 categories of materials previously identified as “scarce or threatened materials” by HHS. In particular, the subject restricted PPE “covered materials” are the following:

-N-95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators, including devices that are disposable half-face-piece non-powered air-purifying particulate respirators intended for use to cover the nose and mouth of the wearer to help reduce wearer exposure to pathogenic biological airborne particulates;

-Other Filtering Facepiece Respirators (e.g., those designated as N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, or P95, P99, P100), including single-use, disposable half-mask respiratory protective devices that cover the user’s airway (nose and mouth) and offer protection from particulate materials at an N95 filtration efficiency level per 42 CFR 84.181;

-Elastomeric, air-purifying respirators and appropriate particulate filters/cartridges;

-PPE surgical masks, including masks that cover the user’s nose and mouth and provide a physical barrier to fluids and particulate materials; and

-PPE gloves or surgical gloves, including those defined at 21 CFR 880.6250 (exam gloves) and 878.4460 (surgical gloves) and such gloves intended for the same purposes.

Before any shipments of the above-listed PPE materials can be exported from the U.S., CBP will temporarily detain the shipment so that FEMA can determine whether to (i) prohibit the export and return the shipment for domestic use; (ii) utilize the Defense Product Act (“DPA”) to issue a “rated order” for the materials (a priority contract or order placed in support of a national defense program under the DPA), or (iii) allow the export of part or all of the shipment.

In making its determination, FEMA may consider the following factors: (1) the need to ensure that scarce or threatened items are appropriately allocated for domestic use; (2) minimization of disruption to the supply chain, both domestically and abroad; (3) the circumstances surrounding the distribution of the materials and potential hoarding or price-gouging concerns; (4) the quantity and quality of the materials; (5) humanitarian considerations; and (6) international relations and diplomatic considerations.

Scope and Exemptions

On April 9, 2020, CBP issued an updated internal guidance memorandum (the “CBP Internal Guidance”) to its field operators to clarify key definitions and general exceptions to the PPE export restrictions provided for in the TFR. CBP highlighted that the focus of the TFR is on “commercial quantities” of PPE exports, currently defined as shipments valued at $2,500 or more and containing more than 10,000 units.

The CBP Internal Guidance then lists the following export circumstances that are excluded from the FEMA restrictions:

-Exports to Canada or Mexico;

-Exports to U.S. government entities such as U.S. military bases overseas;

-Exports by U.S. Government agencies;

-Exports by U.S. charities;

-Exports by critical infrastructure industries for the protection of their workers;

-Exports by the 3M Company;

-Express or Mail Parcels that do not meet the “commercial quantity” definition above;

-In-transit shipments.

On April 21, 2020, FEMA published additional guidance in the Federal Register on the full scope of the initial list of 10 exemptions, which are described as follows:

-Shipments to U.S. Commonwealths and Territories, including Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (including minor outlying islands).

-Exports of “covered materials” by non-profit or non-governmental organizations that are solely for donation to foreign charities or governments for free distribution (not sale) at their destination.

-Intracompany transfers of “covered materials” by U.S. companies from domestic facilities to company-owned or affiliated foreign facilities.

-Shipments of “covered materials” that are exported solely for assembly in medical kits and diagnostic testing kits destined for U.S. sale and delivery.

-Sealed, sterile medical kits and diagnostic testing kits when only a portion of the kit is made up of one or more “covered materials” that cannot be easily removed without damaging the kits.

-Declared diplomatic shipments from foreign embassies and consulates to their home countries.

-Shipments to overseas U.S. military addresses, foreign service posts (e.g. diplomatic post offices), and embassies.

-In-transit merchandise: Shipments in transit through the U.S. with a foreign shipper and consignee, including shipments temporarily entered into a warehouse or temporarily admitted to a foreign trade zone.

-Shipments for which the final destination is Canada or Mexico.

-Shipments by or on behalf of the U.S. federal government, including its military.

Certain exclusions will require the submission of a letter of attestation certifying to FEMA the purpose of the shipment of covered materials that will also be placed on file with CBP.

Practical Advice and Next Steps

All U.S. manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors of PPE materials or other products designated by HHS as “scarce or threatened” (the relevant HHS guidance can be found here) that are considering exporting their products for sale need to have a comprehensive understanding of the FEMA TFR and applicable export restrictions. It may be the case that additional FEMA guidance will be issued regarding products identified by HHS as “scarce or threatened” in connection with the fight against the spread of COVID-19, and those additional items could be added to the list of restricted products for exports, including portable ventilators and certain drug treatment products that contain chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine HCl. Additional export, exporter or product-based exclusions may be issued in the finalized published FEMA/CBP guidance as well.

In the meantime, U.S. exporters of PPE products can expect delays at CBP ports around the country as FEMA and CBP develop and implement the TFR and related policy guidance. If you have any questions about the TFR, the impact of the TFR on exports of PPE products, or whether a particular product or proposed export is covered by a CBP exclusion, please contact a member of Baker Donelson’s Global Business Team.

_________________________________________________________

Alan Enslen is a shareholder with Baker Donelson and leads the International Trade and National Security Practice and is a member of the Global Business Team. He can be reached at aenslen@bakerdonelson.com.

 Julius Bodie is an associate with Baker Donelson who assists U.S. and foreign companies across multiple industries with international trade regulatory issues. He can be reached at jbodie@bakerdonelson.com.

PPE

COVID-19 Trade Update: FEMA Implements Export Controls for PPE as CBP Issues Guidance Restrictions

On April 3, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Homeland Security, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to utilize the Defense Production Act to restrict the export of scarce domestic materials being used to respond to the spread of COVID-19, including certain personal protective equipment (PPE).

Effective Tuesday, April 7, FEMA implemented this Order through a Temporary Final Rule (the TFR) that restricts U.S. exports of five specific categories of PPE products that were previously designated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as “scarce or threatened materials.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has since issued its own internal guidance on the TFR that provides further detail on the scope of the restrictions as well as key exclusions for certain U.S. exporters.

The TFR differs from traditional U.S. export control regulations, such as those administered by the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State, in that there is no licensing system in place and FEMA’s determination is not based on the proposed end-use or end-user of the product – rather, FEMA will assess all U.S. exports of designated PPE materials and reallocate those products domestically as required. Because FEMA is not an agency that traditionally administers U.S. export control regulations, it is critical for manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors of PPE products and related medical materials to be aware of the specific articles impacted by the TFR, the scope of the restrictions, the timeline for implementation, consequences for non-compliance, and the potential for expanded product coverage.

PPE Export Restrictions Overview

The TFR providing for PPE export restrictions is effective as of April 7, 2020 for a period of 120 days. The TFR designates five of fifteen categories of materials previously identified as “scarce or threatened materials” by HHS. In particular, the subject restricted PPE materials are the following:

-N-95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators, including devices that are disposable half-face-piece non-powered air-purifying particulate respirators intended for use to cover the nose and mouth of the wearer to help reduce wearer exposure to pathogenic biological airborne particulates;

-Other Filtering Facepiece Respirators (e.g., those designated as N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, or P95, P99, P100), including single-use, disposable half-mask respiratory protective devices that cover the user’s airway (nose and mouth) and offer protection from particulate materials at an N95 filtration efficiency level per 42 CFR 84.181;

-Elastomeric, air-purifying respirators and appropriate particulate filters/cartridges;

-PPE surgical masks, including masks that cover the user’s nose and mouth and provide a physical barrier to fluids and particulate materials; and

-PPE gloves or surgical gloves, including those defined at 21 CFR 880.6250 (exam gloves) and 878.4460 (surgical gloves) and such gloves intended for the same purposes.

Before any shipments of the above-listed PPE materials can be exported from the U.S., CBP will temporarily detain the shipment so that FEMA can determine whether to:

-Prohibit the export and return the shipment for domestic use;

-Utilize the Defense Product Act (DPA) to issue a “rated order” for the materials (a priority contract or order placed in support of a national defense program under the DPA); or

-Allow the export of part or all of the shipment.

In making its determination, FEMA may consider the following factors:

-The need to ensure that scarce or threatened items are appropriately allocated for domestic use;

-Minimization of disruption to the supply chain, both domestically and abroad;

-The circumstances surrounding the distribution of the materials and potential hoarding or price-gouging concerns;

-The quantity and quality of the materials;

-Humanitarian considerations; and

-International relations and diplomatic considerations.

Scope and Exemptions

On April 9, 2020, CBP issued an updated internal guidance memorandum (CBP Internal Guidance) to its field operators to clarify key definitions and general exceptions to the PPE export restrictions provided for in the TFR.

First, CBP highlights that the focus of the TFR is on “commercial quantities” of PPE exports, currently defined as shipments valued at $2,500 or more and containing more than 10,000 units.

The CBP Internal Guidance then lists the following export circumstances that are excluded from the FEMA restrictions:

-Exports to Canada or Mexico;

-Exports to U.S. government entities such as U.S. military bases overseas;

-Exports by U.S. Government agencies;

-Exports by U.S. charities;

-Exports by critical infrastructure industries for the protection of their workers;

-Exports by the 3M Company;

-Express or Mail Parcels that do not meet the “commercial quantity” definition above;

-In-transit shipments.

However, it is important to note that as of April 16, the Internal CBP Guidance on exclusions for the TFR has not been formally published in the Federal Register or elsewhere by CBP, and may be subject to additional revisions in its final form.

Practical Advice and Next Steps

All U.S. manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors of PPE materials or other products designated by HHS as “scarce or threatened” (the relevant HHS guidance can be found here) that are considering exporting their products for sale need to have a comprehensive understanding of the FEMA TFR and applicable export restrictions. Expect additional CBP and/or FEMA guidance in the near future with refined definitions, clarifications as to how the exclusions will be administered, and further details on how product definitions will be determined. It may be the case that additional products identified by HHS as “scarce or threatened” in connection with the fight against the spread of COVID-19 will be added to the list of restricted products for exports, including portable ventilators and certain drug treatment products that contain chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine HCl. Additional export, exporter, or product-based exclusions may be issued in the finalized published FEMA/CBP guidance as well.

In the meantime, U.S. exporters of PPE products can expect delays at CBP ports around the country as FEMA and CBP develop and implement the TFR and related policy guidance. If you have any questions about the TFR, the impact of the TFR on exports of PPE products, or whether a particular product or proposed export is covered by a CBP exclusion, please contact a member of Baker Donelson’s Global Business Team.

_________________________________________________________________

Alan Enslen is a shareholder with Baker Donelson and leads the International Trade and National Security Practice and is a member of the Global Business Team. He can be reached at aenslen@bakerdonelson.com.

Julius Bodie is an associate with Baker Donelson who assists U.S. and foreign companies across multiple industries with international trade regulatory issues. He can be reached at jbodie@bakerdonelson.com.