Trump Seeks to Block 3M Mask Exports and Grab Masks From Its Overseas Customers

He said the administration should instead use the law as leverage.

“You have the carrot and the stick,” Mr. Bialos said. “If you were a sophisticated person or group doing this you would use the carrot and the stick to get more from the industry today to facilitate production for the future.”

Despite Mr. Navarro’s order, critics say that the administration was encouraging American exports of masks and other protective gear, even as it should have been preparing medical supplies for the crisis to come.

Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, pointed out that the Commerce Department was still advertising measures to help American businesses export medical products to China as late as mid-March, even after administration officials told Congress they might face a shortage of face masks.

In January and February, United States exports of ventilators and oxygenation products to China were up 138 percent from the previous year, while exports of gas and face masks with filters rose 1315 percent, according to data from the Census Bureau analyzed by Mr. Doggett’s office. Exports of protective garments were up 493 percent in the same period, while exports of disinfectant products rose 225 percent, the data show.

“Ignoring the obvious need to prepare for a pandemic, the Trump administration promoted substantially increased export of face masks, ventilators, and other vital equipment to China rather than protecting our health care workers,” Mr. Doggett said in a statement. “Many Americans are now paying with their lives for Trump denial, delay, and deception.”

Ana Swanson and Zolan Kanno-Youngs reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Jonathan Martin contributed reporting from Washington, and Jack Nicas from Oakland, Calif.

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