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3M Will Import 166 Million Respirators from China

April 8, 2020
The plan does not include a ban on exporting the face masks to Canada or Mexico.

3M says they have cut a deal with the White House to import 166.5 million N95 respirators from overseas production facilities to the United States. The announcement follows a Friday afternoon spat on April 3 when 3M resisted the President’s request that they cut off exports of their American-made masks to other North American countries.

3M CEO Mike Roman, in a statement, thanked the President for his “leadership and collaboration,” and said they share the same goals of helping provide Americans with protective equipment. According to 3M, the 166.5 million masks will be sourced mainly from a manufacturing facility in China: the White House, for its part, is working to clear any red tape that might hamper the import operation. 

The agreement also includes more measures intended to prevent price-gouging from third-party retailers, which 3M says it does not allow. Also according to 3M, the agreed-on plan will not prevent 3M from sending respirators made in the U.S. to Canada or Mexico. 3M is currently manufacturing 35 million respirators a month in the United States.

Last week, President Donald Trump made an order and two requests of 3M. First, he invoked the Defense Production Act to order the hygiene and office product conglomerate to ramp up production of N95 respirator masks. At the same time, he requested that 3M import masks made overseas and cut off exports of 3M products to Canada and Mexico.

In a statement released April 3, 3M agreed to the request to import masks, but refused to stop exporting them. The Minnesota-based conglomerate said that cutting off respirators to Canada and Mexico would cause “significant humanitarian implications” and cause a risk of retaliation.

Comments made by the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, did not explicitly threaten retaliation, but supported 3M’s position. He said an export ban on the masks would be “a mistake,” and said “3M has indicated that it understands how important it is to continue to deliver on orders to places like Canada.”

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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