3M promises face masks in Canada, signs deal with Trump administration


WASHINGTON _ One of the largest American manufacturers of medical masks came to the rescue of Canada on Monday, concluding an agreement with the White House that allows it to supply millions of its precious N95 respirators to the American market without sacrificing supply to destination north of the border.

3M, based in Minnesota, which has been at the center of a confrontation with President Donald Trump and his administration over the company’s reluctance to comply with the prioritization orders of the American demand for masks, has confirmed its intention to continue to fulfill orders in Canada and Latin America.

3M and the United States government “have worked together to ensure that this plan does not create new humanitarian implications for countries currently fighting the COVID-19 epidemic,” the company said in a press release. from Trump’s last White House Marathon Briefing.

“The plan will also allow 3M to continue shipping US-made respirators to Canada and Latin America, where 3M is the primary source of supply. “

During his briefing, Trump said his argument with the company was over and praised Mike Roman, the company’s general manager, as he announced that 3M would produce 166.5 million masks for professionals Overcrowded and Undernourished Health Care Services Across the United States

He did not mention, however, that these N95 masks would come from the company’s manufacturing facilities in China, so 3M said it would meet at least part of the ever-increasing US demand while continuing to fulfill orders north and south of the United States

“We share the same goals of providing vital respirators to Americans across the country and fighting criminals who seek to take advantage of the current crisis,” Roman said in a statement.

“These imports will complement the 35 million N95 respirators we currently produce per month in the United States. “

Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the United States by name, complaining that Canada had been having problems for weeks with incomplete or non-existent deliveries of COVID-19 critical countermeasures, particularly respirators, that are in demand soaring worldwide. .

“We have recognized in the past few weeks a number of situations in which shipments from different countries of the world have been delayed, (or) did not arrive with as many products as we hoped to see,” said Trudeau.

“This continues to be an ongoing problem, especially with the United States. We are working with them to ensure that the orders Canada has placed are delivered. We expect these shipments to arrive. “

Premier Doug Ford complained Monday of a shipment of masks to Ontario detained at the Canada-US border over the weekend, a circumstance he attributes directly to Trump’s decision to order US producers to prioritize the domestic market.

“We are pressuring the United States from all sides. It is absolutely essential that we get an exemption from this presidential order, “said Ford, who seemed struck when he warned that the province’s supply stock would run out in a few days.

“These are some of the things the whole world is trying to get hold of right now, and I am doing the same,” he said. “I’ll be on it like a dog on a bone.” “

Ford initially said that a shipment of three million masks had been returned to the border and that after a conversation with the US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, he had been able to secure 500,000. But government officials Ontario later said the Premier was wrong – the delayed shipment was only 500,000 masks initially.

Whatever the numbers, Ford has said it wants to take a look at the goods before declaring its efforts successful.

“I’m coming back to trust, but check it out,” he said, noting that Lighthizer had given him a “ray of hope” that the United States would be more cooperative in the future. “I’ve heard in the past,” It’s on its way, it’s on its way “(but) it wasn’t on its way. “

The Trump White House invoked the Defense Production Act to force American equipment manufacturers, such as 3M and Honeywell, to prioritize orders coordinated by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The White House insisted late last week that these orders should not interfere with exports that are in the national interest of the United States – a late warning that came after 3M expressly revealed that the administration had asked to stop exporting N95 masks.

But reports from around the world suggest that the United States is using its unrivaled buying power and international weight to build small buyers. Germany, France and Brazil have all complained about reselling orders under them – sometimes directly on the airport tarmac after a last-minute swap.

“We feel we are hurt,” said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. She said that Canada continues to argue that given the interconnected nature of the Canada-US supply chains, “a win-win outcome, where both parties continue to help each other, is the best result.

“We look forward to a final resolution of this situation. “

Freeland also distinguished 3M and Roman for their “very, very responsible” position in defending the White House. As an international supplier of one of the most important personal protective equipment, 3M is in a “very special situation” at this time as it seeks to balance national demands with global humanitarian responsibilities, she said. note.

“It’s really a Wild West when it comes to buying medical supplies right now,” said Freeland. “This is a global pandemic, and every country in the world is doing its best in a really fierce competition for medical supplies. “

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 6, 2020.


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