Without the capabilities to produce sufficient face masks, Western countries are looking to buy millions of masks, mainly in Asia.

..- Americans who buy a shipment of facemasks about to take off to France on the runway of an airport in China, French or Czechs who seize face masks destined for Spain or Italy. The race to get masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is ruthless.

Without the capabilities to produce masks by themselves in sufficient numbers, many Western countries seek to purchase millions of face masks, primarily in Asia, a situation that has led many to ignore the normal time rules and fair play in the United States. world exchanges.

According to French officials, an entire shipment of facemasks that was about to take off for France was purchased in cash and at a higher price by American buyers, on the tarmac of an airport in China, recently.

“The Americans took a shipment from us,” said Valérie Pécresse, the president of the Paris region, the most populous in France.

The government denied the allegations on Thursday, but the buyers could be private officials or federal states.

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“SCARY COMPETITION”

The phenomenon is worldwide. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday asked his country’s officials to investigate similar claims that masks were being diverted from his country.

“The supply markets for the coronavirus are collapsing,” Professor Christopher R. Yukins of the University of Washington said in a video conference Thursday.

“The states are in competition with each other to access resources,” explained researcher Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier of the Franco-Belgian institute Thomas More. “It is unpleasant but it does not mean an outbreak of hostilities,” he estimated.

Ukrainian MP Andrii Motovylovet, who traveled to China in March to accompany a medical shipment, told Facebook that he witnessed a “terrifying competition for medical equipment.”

“Our consuls who go to the Chinese factories met colleagues from other countries who wanted to take away our orders. We pay for our orders in advance by bank transfer and we have signed contracts. But they had more cash. Each shipment is a fight. “

In China, few manufacturers have permits to export. Those who do not have to go through commercial companies if they want to export. Hence the existence of many intermediaries.

In this ruthless fight, some countries have deployed their secret services. According to the French newspaper Le Figaro, the Israeli Mosad carried out a clandestine operation in March to obtain virus detection kits in an unidentified country.

“It is a time of direct negotiations (…) that are often accompanied by favoritism, embezzlement, and over-invoicing,” Laurence Folliot Lalliot, a professor of public law, wrote in a column in the French newspaper Le Monde.

CASH PAYMENT

And in this context, cash payment works miracles.

“Americans pay cash and without seeing [el cargamento]Of course it may be more attractive for some who only want to do business, “said Valérie Pécresse.

Former Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini EXPRESSED on TA3 television on March 15 that his country had reserved millions of face masks in Ukraine, to be paid for in cash. “We were preparing a suitcase with 1.2 million euros. We had to use a special government flight to collect them. But a German intermediary came before, they beat us on the offer and took them away. ”

There are also tensions between allied countries, members of the European Union.

According to the French magazine l’Express, on March 5, France seized mouthpieces from the Swedish company Mölnlycke on its territory, which were destined for Spain and Italy, the two European countries hardest hit by the coronavirus.

The Czech Republic also seized face masks that were to go to Italy. Prague authorities said the seizure was decided “on the basis of suspected fraudulent behavior and criminal activity,” but they promised to send equivalent material to Italy “as soon as possible,” according to the Czech embassy in Paris.

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