French media are accusing the United States of having “diverted” masks from China destined for France by buying them up “in cash” right off the runway.
French media quote French politician and former MEP Renaud Muselier, 60, who in charge of securing some medical supplies for the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region in south-eastern France, as saying: “The order was placed and paid for, that is to say that the masks were manufactured and pending in China”
He added: “The difficulty we face is logistical.”
He also said: “This morning on the tarmac [at the airport], in China, a French order was bought by the Americans in cash, and the plane which was to come to France went directly to the United States.
“Faced with these problems, I am trying to secure the goods so that […] they are not seized or bought by others.”
French newspaper Liberation quote an anonymous source from one of the French areas affected by the delay as saying: “Masks are becoming scarce, and the Americans buy them wherever they are, no matter the price.”
They added: “They pay double the cash before they even see the goods. We cannot afford it, we do not advance anything and we pay upon receipt. Obviously, we have signed commitments with producers, but we are not in a normal situation… In addition, in recent days, China has itself blocked a number of deliveries. It’s a race against time to find a producer that is reliable, and then a way to ship the order to us.”
Another anonymous source in a different French region, Nouvelle Aquitaine, said: “It’s logistical chaos in China”
They added: “The Americans order two or three billion masks: with our five million, we will always be moved to the back of the line. The delivery was supposed to arrive 10 days ago, but the Shenzhen airport was congested.
“Our importer put everything in a lorry to Shanghai, but it is worse: the lorry is stuck on the road behind all those who wait their turn. We diverted it to Zhengzhou, where we think the situation is better. I call our importer twice a day to keep things safe, but we wonder if we wouldn’t be better off using a train or boat.”
Jean Rottner, president of the Grand Est region in France, was quoted in French newspaper 20 Minutes as having told RTL that the Americans “on the runway, are happy to get out three or four times more for the orders we have made, so we really have to fight.”
The solution for Mr Muselier, to avoid this happening, may be to “manage to work with the bigger Chinese companies.”
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