Lynch warns of reliance on China for PPE
Urges aid recipients to buy American to bolster national security
US REP. STEPHEN LYNCH issued a call on Tuesday for all recipients of federal aid under the American Rescue Plan Act to boycott Chinese personal protection equipment and buy American.
At a press conference at a mass vaccination site at the Hynes Convention Center, Lynch said many producers of personal protection equipment are assembling their products here in the United States but still relying on raw materials from China.
“That doesn’t eliminate the vulnerability that we have,” Lynch said. “We’re still reliant on China.”
Lynch said bills are circulating in Washington to address the problem, but in the meantime he urged anyone receiving the billions of dollars in federal aid coming under the stimulus legislation to use that purchasing power to help establish a system of fully domesticated PPE production.
PPE includes surgical masks, N95 respirators, sterile gloves, surgical gowns, face shields, and the like. The end products rely on various raw materials, including synthetic textiles and pharmaceutical agents.According to a December report on domestic PPE production by the Congressional Research Service, the US has been heavily reliant on China for the equipment. Trade data from 2019 indicate China supplied the US with more than 70 percent of its imported textile face masks, 55 percent of its imported protective eyewear, and 55 percent of imports of protective garments for medical use.
Early in 2020, during the COVID-19 outbreak in China but before the disease spread to the US and other countries, China purchased available supplies of PPE on world markets. The Chinese government also nationalized production of PPE in February 2020, reducing the outflow of PPE. Both actions helped precipitate shortages in the US and other countries and some analysts say the actions were taken not just to address the country’s health needs, but for political reasons.