'An act of modern piracy': A mask shipment from 3M bound for Germany was reportedly diverted to the US


  • A shipment of 3M protective masks that was bound for Berlin was diverted from Thailand and sent to the US, according to a report from the Financial Times.
  • The reported diversion of the 200,000 masks was called "an act of modern piracy," by Berlin Interior Minister Andreas Geisel.
  • The development follows President Donald Trump's criticism of 3M for sending masks to countries other than the US, though the company has increased imports to the US of the critical protective equipment.
  • 3M CEO Mike Roman responded to Trump's criticism on Friday, calling it "absurd," and said that stopping shipments to other countries would pose a humanitarian risk.
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A shipment of masks made by US manufacturer 3M that was bound for Germany was diverted from Thailand and sent to the United States instead, according to a report from the Financial Times.

The diversion of the 200,000 protective masks intended for healthcare workers and emergency staff in Berlin was "an act of modern piracy," Berlin Interior Minister Andreas Geisel told the Financial Times. Advertisement

The move comes after President Donald Trump enacted the Defense Production Act to force 3M to prioritize making protective equipment like masks for the US.

The Trump administration has criticized Minnesota-based 3M for sending protective equipment to countries other than the United States, although the company has ramped up imports into the US from production facilities in China.

3M said on Friday that it recently received approval to send over 10 million N95 respirator masks from its facilities in China to the US.

Various N95 respiration masks at a laboratory of 3M, that has been contracted by the U.S. government to produce extra marks in response to the country's novel coronavirus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota, U.S. March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi

The White House, 3M, and the German embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 3M CEO Mike Roman responded to Trump's criticism on Friday, saying the company has "been telling the administration for days and days" about its efforts to bring protective equipment like the in-demand N95 respirator masks into the US. Advertisement

The Trump administration asked 3M to stop exporting masks made in the US to Canada and Latin America, the company said in a statement on Friday. 3M said halting those exports would have "significant humanitarian implications" in those regions, where 3M is "a critical supplier of respirators."

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