President Donald Trump said he invoked the Defense Production Act to prevent crucial medical supplies from being exported to other countries — an escalation of his battle with3M Co.
Under that authority, Trump said, the Department of Health and Human Services has seized nearly 200,000 N95 respirators, 130,000 surgical masks, 600,000 gloves, as well as “many, many, many bottles and disinfectant sprays that were being hoarded.”
“All of this material is now being given to health-care workers,” Trump said Friday at a White House briefing. He added, however, that he was making exceptions for hard-hit Italy or Spain, allowing orders “to go out in certain instances.”
“I’m not going to be stopping that,” Trump said.
The president has been in a public shouting match with 3M over its export commitments. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Thursday that the administration has had concerns about whether the company’s production around the world is being delivered to the U.S.
3Mresponded Friday that there would be “significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to health-care workers in Canada and Latin America.”
Chief Executive Officer Mike Roman said it’s “absurd” to suggest the company isn’t doing all it can to increase availability of masks in the U.S. and stop middlemen from jacking up prices.
“The narrative overnight that we’re not doing everything to maximize the delivery of respirators in our home country is false,” Roman said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The St. Paul, Minnesota-based company has ramped up production to 100 million masks a month globally. 3M highlighted efforts to increase the number of masks imported from its overseas factories, including approval to ship 10 million respirators from China.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in, saying at a press conference Friday that 3M has said it’s committed to delivering masks to the country, and that Canada is in discussions with the U.S. about continuing trade in medical supplies without restrictions.
“We continue to be confident that we’re going to receive the necessary equipment,” Trudeau said. “We will do everything we can that no part of Canada goes without.”
Trump said at the briefing that he didn’t blame Canada and 3M for pushing back, but added, “We’re not happy with 3M.”
— With assistance by Kait Bolongaro
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