The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to the United States and European countries – where witnessing the disease spread at breakneck speed. The pandemic spread, leading to the crisis of protective equipment worldwide, because almost no country can produce millions of masks every day. And that number is only enough to provide for the frontline doctors.
As a result, Western countries must look to China and other countries in Asia. The supply is limited and the demand is urgent, many countries are willing to do anything to get their hands on them, creating a fierce battle for competition on a global scale. In France, the media called this “guerre des masques” – meaning “Masked War”.
The battle without mercy
The battle around the mask is real, and it’s happening. According to allegations by some French officials, the lot of their protective masks ordered from China has been usurped by the US – more precisely, “the upper hand”.
The allegation is not only by name, but at least two French officials have insisted that Americans pay Chinese suppliers at a price three to four times higher than the French deal, and then “lift” the shipment. It is absolutely essential.
Specifically, Renaud Muselier, Sud region president, repeatedly told the media that the French order had been “bought in cash” by the Americans, and that shipment had flown to the US, instead of reaching France as agreed. pros.
“There was a country that paid three times the price at the airport runway. The mask disappeared, and the place to buy it was nothing,” – Mr. Muselier answered to the BFM-TV reporter.
Later, however, Muselier corrected again on Twitter, that the number of masks for his region was in transit, and “Not being bought by foreign powers.” When CNN contacted, Muselier refused to answer and asked reporters to work with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Another official, Jean Rottner, president of the Grand Est region, also made similar allegations. Answering to RTL, he said he was having a tough battle every day to maintain orders.
“That’s right. Americans come right on the runway, down cash and pay three to four times the price of us, so there’s obviously a need to fight.”
Rottner later shared on Twitter that 2 million masks from Shanghai were shipped on April 1, saying two shipments would arrive later that week. He declined to elaborate on his previous statement to the press.
The third French official to speak out about this incident was Valérie Pécresse – the president of the Île-de-France region. Pécresse said masks are now the most sought after item in the world. “We ordered it, but couldn’t get it because someone was willing to pay three times the market price,” Pecresse told Franceinfo. However, who “who” is she refuses to identify herself.
CNN said it is not clear the identity of customers in this story. It may be a private company, but it could also be an intermediary working for the government. The US Department of Health and Social Services declined to respond to CNN correspondents, while the US State Department in France confirmed “The United States does not buy any batch of masks shipped from China to France.”
In an interview with the national broadcaster on April 2, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe admitted to ensuring the safety of orders “is not always easy.” He said the problem “It is not difficult in shipping, but sometimes orders are not delivered.”
“There are many reasons, including the huge demand for China from the US, Europe and almost the entire world.”
On April 2, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern, after reports showed that orders for imported masks were smaller than expected. The reason is because part of the shipment was sold to the “higher bid” party.
“We understand that the demand for masks in the United States is huge, but so is Canada, so we have to work together,” – Trudeau spoke.
However, it seems that cooperation is unlikely. According to Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier from the Thomas More Institute, the act of setting a high price to “hold on” can be considered as a resource grab, and is likely to cause hostility between countries. Even according to Ukrainian MP Andriy Motovylovets, the competition can be “very scary”.
“My consulate went to factories (in China) and saw many colleagues from other countries fighting for the shipment we ordered,” – Mr. Motovylovets shared on Facebook.
“We made a prepayment with the contract. But they had more money, they were cash. We struggled violently to keep each shipment.”
Besides, only a small number of Chinese mask manufacturers have export licenses, most of which have to go through brokers to reach foreign customers. This accidentally created many intermediaries in the market, making the mask value continue to rise.
He who has money is a king
In March, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said his country had a bitter lesson in a “mask battle”. The lesson is short: the one who has money is the king.
“We have prepared 1.2 million euros in suitcases, planning to use a government special aircraft to get masks from a supplier in China,” – Pellegrini shared with Slovakian TV.
“However, buyers from Germany came first. They paid more and took the goods away.”
In “mask wars”, whoever has money is the king
The story of “helpless” happened even in the European Union (EU). Even some consignments were confiscated when transported through third countries.
In March, Czech authorities seized thousands of masks allegedly from smugglers. But it turned out that those masks were aid goods from China to Italy. Paris, amid a shortage of masks, has also confiscated shipments from Swedish suppliers to Spain and Italy, according to L’Express newspaper.
“We look forward to France quickly ending the requisition of medical equipment and making every effort to ensure the safety of the supply chain and freight,” – The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a notification on 3 April.
“The general market needs to work well, especially in times of crisis.”
Source: CNN, AFP