Actions decried as ‘act of modern piracy’ . . .
Germany’s interior minister for the Berlin state government has accused the United States of “an act of modern piracy,” alleging that a shipment of roughly 200,000 N95 masks bound for Germany was diverted to the United States while being transferred between planes in Thailand. The masks were reportedly manufactured in China by 3M, a U.S.-headquartered company. While 3M denies that this post-purchase diversion occurred, these latest German allegations are just one of many stories of the U.S. ignoring international trading rules and inciting an every-country-for-itself hunt for N95 masks in Asia.
Trump tries to force 3M in Singapore to restrict exports to US . . .
The global scramble for masks and the United States’ Wild West approach to their procurement entered a new phase on Thursday when U.S. President Donald Trump said he would use the Defense Procurement Act to demand that U.S. firms around the world provide more medical supplies to meet domestic demand. After the announcement, 3M released a statement pointing out that on both humanitarian and manufacturing grounds, the Defense Procurement Act could cause even more problems with the global supply of masks by leading countries to refuse to supply the U.S. with the raw materials for making masks. Earlier last week 3M reportedly refused the White House’s demand to export 10 million of its N95 masks from its Singapore facilities to the U.S. instead of sending them to their designated markets in Asia.
Canada responds . . .
Trump’s invoking of the Defense Procurement Act has sparked an uproar among Canadian officials. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he won’t rely on the U.S. or any other countries “ever again,” and that he will step up manufacturing in the province to supply not just Ontario but everyone in Canada. At the federal level, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasized that it is in neither country’s interest to limit the trade of essential goods and services, and clarified that Ottawa is not considering retaliatory measures against the ban. Canada is currently trying to ensure that N95 masks destined for Canada are not diverted en route from Asia.