3M responds to President Trump, says there are 'significant humanitarian implications' to stopping N95 mask exports

Minnesota-based 3M responded Friday to the Trump Administration’s request the company stop selling its N95 respirators to other countries, saying that doing so would have “significant humanitarian implications.” 

Thursday, President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, to help several Minnesota companies boost production of vital medical equipment. The order will help companies like Medtronic, Vyaire Medical and 3M secure the supplies needed to make their products. Medtronic and Vyaire make ventilators while 3M makes N95 protective masks. 

"We have been working closely with the Administration to do exactly that, and we appreciate the authorities in the DPA that provide a framework for us to expand even further the work we are doing in response to the global pandemic crisis," 3M said in a statement. "We look forward to working with FEMA to implement yesterday’s order."

However, after hearing reports that 3M was selling face masks to other countries, the president lashed out at the company on Twitter Thursday night, writing, “We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks. ‘P Act’ all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing—will have a big price to pay!” 

In its statement, 3M said the Trump Administration requested that 3M cease exporting N95 respirators that it currently manufactures in the U.S. to the Canadian and Latin American markets.

The company is pushing back against the president’s directive, however, saying there are “significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to health care workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators.” 

3M also argues that ceasing all exports of respirators produced in the United States would “likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same,” and would actually decrease the net number of respirators available to the U.S. 

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

In response to the president invoking the DPA, 3M said it “appreciates the assistance” of the administration in exporting masks from its overseas operations into the U.S. The company said it has already secured approval from China to export to the U.S. 10 million N95 respirators manufactured by 3M in China. 

“We look forward to working closely with the Administration to implement yesterday’s DPA order,” 3M said in a statement. “We will continue to maximize the amount of respirators we can produce on behalf of U.S. healthcare workers, as we have every single day since this crisis began” 

Earlier this week, 3M Chairman and CEO Mike Roman said the manufactuer is looking to double its current production of N95 respirators again to output 2 billion masks globally within the next 12 months.