Turkey’s protective clothing and mask exports reached $573.4 million in the first half of this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Istanbul Apparel Exporters’ Association (IHKIB) on Monday. 

“We saw a record high year-on-year growth in the figure with 986% in January-June,” said Mustafa Gultepe, the head of IHKIB.

Gultepe said Turkish companies accelerated works to meet the strong global demand for masks and protective clothes.

The country exported $144.7 million worth of masks and $428.7 worth of protective clothes in the first six months of this year, Gultepe said.

He underlined that the share of the sector on Turkey’s total readymade garment and clothing exports reached 8.2%.

Gultepe stressed that readymade garment and clothing exports surged 25% annually in June after a three month decline.

Despite the rise in June, exports shrank 19.8% to $7 billion in six-month period, Gultepe noted.

“There is a revive in the EU, our top export market and we see surge in new export orders,” he said, adding: “If we do not face the second wave [of the coronavirus], we can recover rapidly after September.”

He underlined that the bounce back in the last quarter will not be enough to offset the loss.

“We may close the year with 15-20% shrinkage,” Gultepe said.

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