DONALD TRUMP has banned an American company from exporting masks to Canada — amid claims the US is guilty of ‘piracy’ for swiping protective gear from other nations.
The president said the US, which is on course to be the worst affected nation in the world, urgently needed supplies of N95 face guards, made in factories across the globe by 3M.
Mr Trump made the order under the Defence Production Act, which forces companies to manufacture certain goods for defence reasons.
He told a press conference: ‘We need the masks. We don’t want any other people getting it.’
But Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said the move would harm neighbours, and he urged the White House to reconsider.
Mr Trudeau said the two leaders (pictured above) would speak in the coming days about respiratory masks, adding: ‘We know it is in both our countries’ interests to cooperate.’ Materials for the N95 masks originated in Canada, which has shipped medical gloves and testing kits to the US, he said.
The 3M company, which produces 100million masks a month, warned of ‘significant humanitarian implications’ unless it could continue sending products to Canada and South America.
Last week, the US was accused of ‘modern piracy’ after reportedly diverting a shipment of 20,000 masks from a 3M factory in Thailand intended for the German police.
And French officials claimed Americans had been ‘outbidding’ European states to buy new supplies.
Valerie Pecresse, president of the Ile-de-France region, said the race to get masks was like a ‘treasure hunt’. She told channel BFMTV: ‘I found a stock of masks that was available and Americans — I’m not talking about the American government but Americans — outbid us. They offered three times the price and proposed to pay upfront.’
A US official told Reuters that both US companies and the government have been paying ‘above market price’ for protective equipment overseas.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump warned the US could be entering its ‘toughest’ weeks yet, telling reporters: ‘There will be a lot of death, unfortunately. There will be death.’ The number of confirmed infections in the States has topped 300,000 — the worst rate in the world — and more than 8,500 have died.
Experts predict it will soon overtake Italy’s death toll of more than 15,000.