3M Says It Needed Chinese Approval To Sell Medical Masks In The US

The Minnesota-based company only started to let Americans buy its N95 masks after a direct order from President Trump.

3M says it asked China for permission to sell more N95 masks in America after President Donald Trump scolded the company for exporting medical masks as American hospitals struggle to acquire them.

As American healthcare providers and the US government struggle to acquire N95 masks, 3M has been selling them to foreign governments. This practice caught Trump’s attention prompting a presidential tweet, Thursday night, as he warned that the Minneapolis based company “will have a big price to pay!”

Now, it appears that the president has made good on this promise as he “formally invoked the Defense Production Act,” according to a Friday press release from 3M. Trump’s order has the effect of forcing 3M to prioritize America’s needs amidst the COVID-19 epidemic.

3M says that to follow this order, it “secured approval from China to export to the U.S. 10 million N95 respirators manufactured by 3M in China,” according to the release.

The Minnesota based company said it cannot simply sell the masks it makes in the US to American hospitals because those masks are destined for Latin America and Canada. 3M claims that the “significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America” prevent them from allowing American hospitals to purchase these domestically produced masks.

Before this official action occurred, 3M failed to comply with other White House requests involving the availability of N95s, reports the Financial Times.

Jared Moskowitz, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, explained on Tucker Carlson’s show, Thursday, that trying to acquire masks for health professionals who are on the “front lines” of the coronavirus epidemic is like “chasing ghosts,” because of 3Ms practices that favor foreign governments.

Meanwhile, other companies like Amazon and Home Depot have taken actions to help ensure hospitals have the protective equipment they need. Both retailers no longer sell N95s to the general public in the name of reserving supplies for hospitals.

Mike Lindell, a Minnesota businessman and conservative activist has also put his company, MyPillow, to work making free masks for hospitals.