US conglomerate 3M on Saturday rejected allegations that 200,000 face masks ordered by the city of Berlin were confiscated by US officials in Bangkok.
3M had no indications that masks were seized, the company told dpa. The firm also has no paperwork on a shipment of masks destined for Berlin.
The German daily Tagesspiegel cited Berlin's regional interior minster as saying on Friday that 200,000 medical face masks were confiscated by US officials in Bangkok; the minister accused the United States of ‘modern piracy’ as a result.
The FFP-2 respirators, which protect the wearer against infection, had been intended for use by Berlin police officers, state minister Andreas Geisel said.
Geisel called on Germany's federal government to urge Washington to adhere to international rules.
The state of Berlin had ordered them from a US company and paid, he added. According to the Tagesspiegel report, the masks had been manufactured in China.
There has been no comment from the White House, which has not responded to dpa inquiries.
Washington has forced US conglomerate 3M by law to supply the United States with as many type-N95 respirator masks as possible, such as those used in hospitals. The group also manufactures in China.
In a general statement issued in the United States, 3M said: ‘In the course of our collaboration with the administration this past weekend, the administration requested that 3M increase the amount of respirators we currently import from our overseas operations into the US.
‘We appreciate the assistance of the administration to do exactly that. For example, earlier this week, we secured approval from China to export to the US 10 million N95 respirators manufactured by 3M in China.’
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