the whole planet is looking to buy protective masks in China

The plane of an American football team unloads its cargo of Chinese masks at Boston Airport on April 2. POOL / REUTERS

This is the big crowd at the gates of Chinese factories, from which the whole planet seeks to obtain protective masks to slow the spread of the Covid-19. In this rat race, states compete with each other, but also local communities and businesses. All of this in a hurry, because everyone is facing the shortage and public opinion stunned by the lack of anticipation of their leaders, while the bulk of air traffic to China has been cut. “There is a mask race in China, you have to be ready to draw immediately to successfully place an order”, sums up Alain Rousset, president of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

The French government has launched what it compares to an “airlift” with China – high-priced cargo flights to import 600 million masks. In particular, they must supply hospitals. However, the regions remain responsible for finding masks for accommodation for dependent elderly people and carers at home. New Aquitaine was to receive an order for 2.6 million masks this weekend, at the end of an obstacle course: the cargo was first to take off from Shenzhen (south), a large industrial center adjoining Hong Kong . But faced with the overcrowding of the airport cargo terminal, it was sent by truck to Shanghai (east). There, the wait was so long that everything was finally conveyed for takeoff from Zhengzhou, 950 km to the west.

” Race against time “

Ile-de-France has experienced worse disappointment. When, on March 20, the government lifted its requisition for masks on the territory, Valérie Pécresse, president of the region, rushed because the needs were great. She is ordering several million masks from a Chinese supplier. But very quickly, without news of the cargo, the region realizes that the stock was simply sold to another party, more offering. “We don’t even know who bought it in the end, we’re talking about Americans, but in reality, it’s hard to say”, said the entourage of the president.

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This gruesome situation is the consequence of a demand for hypertensive flow and of ruthless competition. Ruby on the nail must now be paid from the past order, because producers can afford to demand it, but also because of the cost of their raw materials. “In the past, we had to make an initial payment of around 30%, then the rest after delivery. The novelty is that the factories want 100% cash on order, otherwise the others come first ”, says Melvin Gerard, an import-export consultant with China.

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