Taiwan, Australia to exchange raw materials to fight COVID-19

Taipei, March 30 (CNA) Taiwan and Australia have agreed to exchange raw materials in the near future to help each other fight the new coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) announced Monday.

In a Facebook post, the MOEA said Australia has agreed to provide 1 million liters of edible alcohol to be turned into 4.22 million 300 milliliter bottles of 75 percent-alcohol hand sanitizer.

In return, Taiwan will provide 3 metric tons of non-woven fabric to Australia, the key raw material used in surgical masks, when its production capacity has stabilized, the MOEA said. The MOEA did not say when this exchange of materials will take place.

According to the ministry, Taiwan relies heavily on imported alcohol, with around 90 percent of its total alcohol supply coming from Australia.

Taiwan currently has a sufficient alcohol supply, the MOEA said, and its two main alcohol-based hand sanitizer suppliers, Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. and Taiwan Sugar Corp., have daily outputs of 200,000 300 ml bottles and 20,000 300 ml bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, respectively.

The edible alcohol in the new deal would be in addition to what is regularly imported and would be brought in to ensure Taiwan has enough supply in the near future.

Taiwan reached a similar agreement with the United States earlier this month when the U.S. proposed to reserve raw materials for 300,000 medical protective suits for Taiwan at a time when raw materials for medical items are in short supply. That will be reciprocated by Taiwan providing 100,000 medical face masks per week to the U.S. when its production capacity has stabilized.