Minnesota manufacturing giant 3M warned Friday that a Trump administration order reserving US-made N95 masks for the US market could backfire. Demand for these masks, also known as respirators, has surged in recent weeks because they help protect health care workers from contracting COVID-19.
"Ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same," a 3M statement warned. "If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease."
The statement was a response to President Trump's Thursday decision to invoke the Defense Production Act against 3M. The 1950 law gives the president broad powers to order US companies to devote manufacturing capacity to products that are essential to national defense.
Trump invoked the law last week to order GM to manufacture ventilators. (GM was already planning to do so, but Trump said it was "wasting time" in negotiations over a federal contract.) He invoked the law again on Thursday to help several other manufacturers to "secure the supplies they need to build ventilators."
Also on Thursday, the president invoked the law to require 3M to reserve all US-made N95 masks for the US market—a move that would hurt 3M customers in Canada and Latin America.
"We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks," Trump tweeted on Thursday evening. "'P Act' all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing – will have a big price to pay!"
“It would be a mistake”
Trump's move prompted a sharp response from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said it would be a "mistake" for the US to cut off shipments of medical supplies to America's neighbor and closest ally. He pointed out that goods flow in both directions across the US-Canadian border.
"It would be a mistake to create blockages or reduce the amount of back-and-forth trade of essential goods and services, including medical goods, across our border,” Trudeau said.
A lot of N95 mRead More – Source