PortandTerminal.com, April 3, 2020
N95 mask supplier 3M has pushed back and told the White House that halting exports would cause “other countries” (Canada) to retaliate and cease exports to the U.S., leading to an overall decrease in the number of respirators available in the U.S
WASHINGTON – Minnesota-based 3M says the Trump administration has asked that it stop sending N95 respirators to export markets in Canada and Latin America.
Addressing the issue, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday it would be a “mistake” for the U.S. to limit exports of medical supplies to Canada in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trudeau also tactfully added that he’s “confident that the close and deep relationship between Canada and the U.S. will hold strong and we will not have to see interruptions in the supply chain in either direction.”
While not coming right and saying it, many saw Trudeau’s reference to not interrupting trade in “either direction” a subtle nod to the fact that Canada is the exclusive producer of many strategic raw materials American companies, including 3M, rely upon.
“K10S is the pulp that we’re producing for these medical supplies. We’re the only one that produces it,”Levi Sampson, Canadian mill Harmac Pacific president
A company in Canada, Harmac Pacific, is the world’s only producer of the particular grade of paper pulp used in the manufacture of surgical masks and gowns.
So now suddenly that makes things a bit awkward…
Canadians on social media were quick to criticize the move by Trump with many pointing out that the raw material to produce the masks is produced in only in Canada. “The raw materials to make the N95 masks come from British Columbia, Canada. Try us.” said one user on Twitter.
I call on Canada @JustinTrudeau to immediately stop shipping any components or materials to 3M in the United States, if they won’t send us back finished products. That includes the pulp needed for N95 masks.Canadian Twitter user reaction
This is the second instance of the Trump Administration alienating a major trading partner over critical supplies during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier in March, the White House tried to secure the exclusive rights to a coronavirus vaccine developed being by a German pharmaceutical company called CureVac. Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported at the time that the Trump administration wanted to secure the rights and move research and development to the United States. The vaccine would be developed “only for the USA,” the newspaper said.
In this latest incident, 3M was singled out for criticism Thursday by President Donald Trump, who has invoked the U.S.’s Defense Production Act to compel the company to prioritize orders from FEMA for masks to help meet soaring American demand.
3M Pushes Back
Minnesota-based 3M, which calls itself a critical supplier of the masks to both the United States and Canada, says there would be “significant humanitarian implications” were they to cut off supplies of the masks to Canada.
3M argued that halting exports would cause other countries to retaliate and cease exports to the U.S., leading to an overall decrease in the number of respirators available in the U.S. “That is the opposite of what we and the administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek,” the statement says.
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