Trade data suggest that U.S. exports of medical supplies surged when the administration should have been preparing for a domestic coronavirus outbreak, according to a new report by Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA).
“In February 2020, the value of U.S. mask exports to China was 1094.0% higher than the 2019 monthly average,” Porter’s report said. “In February 2020, the value of U.S ventilator exports to China was 292.2% higher than the 2019 monthly average.”
The report, which was released Monday, pointed to specific Trump administration policies — rather than just a general increase in foreign demand due to the spread of COVID-19 abroad — as being a potential reason for the spike in export value. The New York Times reported in early March that the Commerce Department was touting a temporary change in regulations that facilitated exports of medical supplies to China by American vendors.
“Whether export numbers reflect increased per-unit costs for Chinese buyers, or an increase in units sold, the bottom line is the same: a payday for a few companies, and huge costs for the rest of us,” Porter’s report said.
Meanwhile, the value of imports of masks and ventilators decreased significantly in January and February, according to the report.
“The import data that we identified and reviewed also reveal that the Trump Administration failed to prepare for COVID-19 and to protect the health of Americans,” Porter said in the report, pointing to a 10 percent decline in import values for ventilators and a 14 percent decrease for N95 masks.
Additionally, Porter’s office analyzed the federal government contract information, and found that many of the U.S. contracts for medical supplies will not completed until September of October.
Read the report below: