A policy that US allies in Europe have recently slammed as ‘piracy’ is set to continue, as Washington unabashedly and unapologetically continues blocking shipments from US soil of personal protective equipment (PPE) — such as gowns, gloves, and N95 face masks — which hospitals and health workers desperately need in the fight against COVID-19.
The Hill reports that “The federal government will begin seizing exports of personal protective equipment, or PPE, until it decides if the tools should be kept in the country to fight the coronavirus.”
The announcement was made Wednesday by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), formalizing an existing controversial practice under Defense Production Act (DPA) which has recently blocked millions of masks from being exported from Minnesota-based 3M to Canada. US customs will block all respirators, surgical masks and surgical gloves from going abroad.
Canadian leaders blasted the move as putting lives in danger, while Germany and France described the US policy, which has seen recent interventions against shipments from China bound for Europe, as ‘piracy’.
“FEMA and CBP are working together to prevent domestic brokers, distributors, and other intermediaries from diverting these critical medical resources overseas,” a joint statement indicated.
“Today’s order is another step in our ongoing fight to prevent hoarding, price gouging, and profiteering by preventing the harmful export of critically needed PPE,” the White House also said in a statement. “It will help ensure that needed PPE is kept in our country and gets to where it is needed to defeat the virus.”
It appears Trump’s ‘America First’ policy in action at a crucial time of crisis, as the US is the global epicenter for COVID-19, now with over 430,000 confirmed cases – most in New York state – which has witnessed hospitals running desperately low on supplies, including ventilators.
However, foreign governments have of late essentially warned ‘what goes around comes around’. Berlin Interior Minister Andreas Geisel at the start of the week stated bluntly of Washington’s brazen policy that it constitutes a Wild West tactic – essentially warning Europe can play dirty too.