3M Resisting WH Directive to Send 10 Million N95 Masks from Singapore to U.S.

3M is now pushing back on both a request from the Trump administration to halt exports and to import about 10 million N95 respirator masks from the company’s Singapore hub.

Per BostonGlobe, President Trump said he would use the Defense Production Act to retaliate in cases where companies ship medical equipment elsewhere that’s needed in the US to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

“You could call it retaliation, because that’s what it is — it’s a retaliation. If people don’t give us what we need for our people, we’re going to be very tough,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Saturday.

Trump has said he invoked the act to ban the export of supplies needed around the world to fight the coronavirus pandemic — escalating a battle with allies including Canada, and 3M Co.

National Review reports health care manufacturer 3M has resisted pressure from the White House to import about 10 million N95 respirator masks from the company’s hub in Singapore originally destined for Asian countries, in part due to concern for health care workers in those countries, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

While 3M agreed to import a similar amount from a factory in China, President Trump and his administration have criticized the company for being less than cooperative with the mobilization effort — and Trump announced he would invoke the Defense Production Act to compel 3M to deliver masks to the U.S.

“The administration had worked very hard to ease some rules for 3M and other respirator manufacturers because those companies, 3M chief among them, had essentially promised that they would immediately be putting 35m N95s into the US marketplace. It became clear recently that wasn’t happening,” one White House official told the Financial Times.

“We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks,” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday night. “‘P Act’ all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing – will have a big price to pay!”

Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro, who also serves as the Defense Production Act coordinator for the White House, criticized 3M earlier on Thursday.

“To be frank, over the last several days we’ve had some issues, making sure that all of the production that 3M does around the world, enough of it is coming back here to the right places,” Navarro said.

On Friday, 3M CEO Mike Roman countered that the company was concentrating all its efforts to help fight the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

“The idea that the 3M isn’t doing everything it can…is absurd,” Roman said on CNBC. “We are doing everything we can to maximize our efforts.”