COVID-19: no pity in the global race to the masks

COVID-19: aucune pitié dans la course mondiale aux masques

PARIS | Americans who increase on French buyers on the tarmac of an airport, chinese, French or Czech that grab cardboard boxes to be shipped to other countries…. The competition for the purchase of masks against the virus is merciless.

Taken unaware by the pandemic, unable to produce themselves in sufficient number, the countries, particularly western ones, are seeking billions of masks, mostly in Asia : a situation that leads to disregard of the rules and of fair play supposed to prevail in the economic exchanges in the world.

Thus, the masks ordered in China by the France would have been redeemed by buyers american not identified on the tarmac of airports chinese, according to the presidents of the French region who have had to suffer these processes.

“There is a country, which has paid three times the price of cargo on the tarmac,” said the president of the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’azur, Renaud Muselier.

“We take a load of Americans who have been outbid on a load that we had identified,” assured Valérie Pécresse, the president of the region Île-de-France.

The u.s. government has denied, but these buyers could be private actors or state.

“Scary global competition”

This is a global phenomenon. The canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday “very worried” and called for an investigation after information from Radio-Canada, according to which a shipment of masks purchased in China for Quebec would have been delivered in a lower quantity than predicted after a portion had been sold “to the highest bidder”, namely the United States.

“The supply markets for the Covid 19 are collapsing,” said Thursday during a video conference professor Christopher R. Yukins of the University of Washington, and “competition and transparency” are the costs.

“The States are in a situation of competition with each other, or even rivalry. This is what the political philosophy called the” state of nature”, says researcher Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier the franco-belgian Thomas More, an “insecurity endemic among the nations and even, in the case of the disintegration of the international public order, a state of anarchy”.

For all that, “the surenchérissement on a delivery of masks rather of the competition for access to resources : it is unpleasant but this is not the outburst of hostilities”, he says.

The member of the Ukrainian Andriï Motovylovets, who visited China in march to accompany a shipment of medical, has told about his account Facebook have been a witness to a competition “chilling for medical equipment. Our consuls, who visit factories (china, ED) meet with their colleagues from other countries (Russia, Usa.-U., France) who want to retrieve our orders. We paid our orders in advance by bank transfer and we have signed contracts. Them, they have more money, and species. We are fighting for each cargo”.

On the airports chinese, around factories and logistics platforms, “the tension is huge there. The crooks are multiple and varied,” said Mr. Muselier.

In China, few producers have export licenses. The others are forced to move on by trading companies if they want to be able to export. Hence the existence of many intermediaries.

Everywhere in the world, to multiple stakeholders, States, regions, private actors, intermediaries, short-circuit to place the hand on these materials, so precious, to which the secret services can be used. Thus, according to Le Figaro (French newspaper), the Mossad has carried out sometime in march a clandestine operation to retrieve kits for the detection of the virus in an unknown country.

“Now is the time for direct negotiation, the otc markets, instruments useful in situations of health emergencies, but are often accompanied by a procession of predictable favoritism, embezzlement, and overage costs”, said in a column in the newspaper Le Monde, Laurence folliot e-Lalliot, professor of public law.

Briefcase of money

And in this context the cash payment made miracles.

“The Americans pay with cash and without seeing (the cargo, ED), necessarily it can be more attractive to some who are just looking to do business with the distress of the world,” said Ms. Pécresse.

The former Slovak Prime minister Peter Pellegrini said on television TA3 on 15 march that his country had set aside millions of masks in Ukraine, which were to be paid in cash. “We were in the process of preparing a briefcase with € 1.2 million. We had to use a flight special governmental to retrieve the masks. But a intermediate German happened before, overbid and bought it”.

These issues sometimes arise within the european Union where several states have banned the export of medical equipment or decided the requisitions, such as France.

According to information of the Express, the France was entered on march 5 on its territory of the masks belonging to the Swedish company Molnlycke, which were destined for Spain and Italy.

The Czech Republic also seized masks, of which a part was to be delivered in Italy. The authorities in Prague have claimed that the seizure had been decided “on the basis of a suspicion of fraudulent behaviour and criminal activities”, but promised to send in Italy”, in the best possible time the equivalent of the material”, according to the Czech embassy in Paris.

For the group, Molnlycke, “it is increasingly difficult to return to conditions of distribution and production of medical devices effective in Europe, which seems to us to be urgent”.

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