3M hits back at Trump, says ceasing exports of N95 masks will have ‘opposite’ effect, humanitarian consequences

Company responds to criticism from President Trump, government request to stock exporting of respirators to Canada, Latin America

3M Co. responded Friday to criticism from President Donald Trump, saying the request to cease exports of much-needed N95 masks to fight the COVID-19 pandemic will not only have the “opposite” effect of what is needed, but also “significant humanitarian” consequences.

The company, which makes safety, industrial and consumer products, including Post-it Notes and Scotch tape, as well as face masks, said that it has been working closely with the Trump administration to supply N95 respirators to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, and appreciates the authorities in the Defense Production Act that were invoked on Thursday, but indicated that some of the administration’s requests could be counterproductive.

For example, under the DPA, the administration requested 3M to cease exports of respirators made in the U.S. to Canada and Latin America.

The company US:MMM said that would have “significant humanitarian implications” as 3M is a critical supplier to those countries, and would also likely provoke other countries to do the same, as some have already done.

“If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease,” 3M said in a statement. “That is the opposite of what we and the Administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek.”

The company pointed out that after a request from the administration to increase respirators imported from its overseas operations, it was able to secure approval from the Chinese government earlier this week, with help from the administration, to export 10 million N95 respirators that it made in China to the U.S.