German authorities accuse US of 'piracy' by seizing face masks

Cheryl Sanders
April 6, 2020

"Even in times of global crisis, we should not be ruled by Wild West methods", Geisel said, urging Germany's federal government to put pressure on the United States to abide by worldwide rules.

In a statement Berlin's state minister of the interior, Andreas Geisel, said 200,000 highly sought-after FFP2 masks, made by an American firm in China and destined for use by Berlin police, were "confiscated" in Bangkok. "I am urging the [German] federal government to demand the U.S. respect global rules", he added.

The German federal government did not immediately respond to a request to comment on Friday. The coronavirus is continuing to spread in Germany, which now has the world's fourth-highest number of confirmed cases behind the U.S., Spain and Italy. "This is not how you deal with trans-Atlantic partners".

The degree of suspicion also feeds into a narrative that it's every nation out for itself as Europeans are also viewing with greater skepticism offers of help from Russian Federation and China, wondering if there are strings attached. Germany now has over 30,000 confirmed infection cases.

"A load was taken from us by Americans who overbid on a batch that we had identified", Valerie Pecresse, regional president of Paris, told broadcaster LCI Thursday.


In France, regional leaders have been reported as now struggling to secure medical supplies as American buyers outbid them. "We pay on delivery because we want to see the masks, while Americans pay cash and without looking". She didn't say whether the people involved were federal officials, company representatives or private individuals.

The 3M company which makes the masks which the Trump government seized in Bangkok, argued that blocking exports from the United States will raise "significant humanitarian implications" overseas and lead other countries to retaliate by withholding much-needed medical supplies from the US.

Île de France leader Valérie Pécresse said: "We lost an order to the Americans who outbid us on a shipment that we had lined up". The company said the US government had asked it to stop exporting the masks to Canada and Latin America, which it said would trigger a humanitarian crisis.

According to German reports, the masks were made by a Chinese firm for the U.S. company 3M.

The head of the Grand Est region in France, Jean Rottner, told RTL radio that his representatives had been outbid by rivals from the USA when they were trying to source masks.


"On Friday, a shipment of millions of gowns, facemasks, eye protection, sanitiser, and gloves arrived", said the First Secretary of State.

German officials in Berlin have accused the United States of seizing a shipment of 200,000 protective masks meant to go to the German capital, calling it an "act of modern piracy".

In Washington, a senior administration official was quoted by AFP on Thursday as rejecting all allegations from French politicians, calling the stories "completely false".

French officials have also complained this week that Americans had swooped on Chinese masks ordered by France after apparently outbidding them on a shipment that had already been lined up. The president has promised that France will be able to produce all the masks it needs domestically by the end of the year as the administration works to ramp up production.


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