Washington, Apr 4.- The 3M company announced that the US government asked it to stop exporting to Canada and Latin America the highly demanded N95 respirators or masks amid the pandemic of the new coronavirus.
In a statement issued this Friday, the company based in the US state of Minnesota opposed this measure, stating that there are significant humanitarian implications in the interruption of the supply of respirators for health workers in those two markets.
In addition, stopping export of US-produced respirators would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done, the statement added.
If that happened, the text noted, the net number of respirators available to the United States would actually decrease, and "that is the opposite of what we and the administration, on behalf of the American people, are seeking."
The company manifested itself in this way after yesterday the US President Donald Trump formally invoked the Defense Production Law to demand that 3M prioritize the requests of the country's Federal Emergency Management Agency in relation to the aforementioned face masks.
According to the company, the administration also asked it to increase the number of respirators it currently imports from its overseas operations, as a result of which the firm obtained approval from China to bring 10 million N95 respirators manufactured by 3M to the United States.
The Defense Production Law, enacted during the Korean War (1950-1953), gives the administration expansive powers to secure supplies it deems necessary, including forcing a company to prioritize the demands of the federal government.
3M has been criticized for how it distributes respirators, and when the United States reports more cases of the new coronavirus than any other country, the idea that North American companies should serve the domestic market first is widespread.
But while the administration has lobbied for increased local production of ventilators, masks, and other necessary products, the United States still relies heavily on imports from China, India, and other nations.
Therefore, experts warn that the export ban could also affect the country's ability to buy those types of products that are currently in high demand in other markets. (Text and Photo: PL)