Global Economy

Trump and 3M strike deal to bring 55.5 million masks a month to US to help coronavirus response

US President Donald Trump takes a question from a reporter during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 6, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Monday that the White House and 3M reached a “very amicable agreement” that will bring more than 55 million masks to the U.S. each month, following a public dispute between the manufacturing giant and the president.

“So the 3M saga ends very happily,” Trump concluded at a White House press briefing on the coronavirus outbreak.

Under the terms of the new deal, 3M will deliver 166.5 million respirator masks to the U.S. “over the next couple of months, Trump said.

“We’re very proud to be dealing, now, with 3M,” Trump said. The president added that he thanked 3M CEO Mike Roman, who was “very happy to get it done.”

The remarks at the latest daily press briefing marked a major shift in tone for the president, who last week harshly accused 3M of wrongdoing over “what they were doing with their masks.”

They “will have a big price to pay!” Trump tweeted Thursday.

Roman pushed back on CNBC the next day, saying it was “absurd” to suggest 3M was not doing all it could to help the U.S. slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The dispute centered around 3M’s exports to outside markets. 3M said in a statement Friday that the Trump administration asked it to stop exporting its U.S.-made respirator masks to Canadian and Latin American markets.

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There are “significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies” to health care workers in those countries, where 3M is a “critical supplier of respirators,” the statement said.

“In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done,” 3M added. “If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease.”

“That is the opposite of what we and the Administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek.”

Trump had invoked the Defense Production Act to authorize acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to “use any and all authority” to acquire as many respirators from the company or its affiliates as was deemed “appropriate.” But 3M said in its statement that it was already working with the Trump administration on getting more masks to the U.S. prior to Trump’s invocation of the DPA.

On Friday evening, Trump once again drew upon the Korean War-era law, signing an order to ban “unscrupulous actors and profiteers” from exporting critical medical gear used to protect wearers from the coronavirus.

“We’re not happy with 3M. We’re not at all happy with 3M. And the people who dealt with it directly are not happy with 3M,” Trump said that evening.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.


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