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CEO DATELINE – New trade group says American mask makers face layoffs and closures

Aug. 3, 2021
By Kathryn Walson

American manufacturers of face masks say they will be forced to close up shop this year without a federal lifeline, The Hill reported Tuesday.

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Businesses and state and local governments are buying cheaper Chinese masks, which has led domestic mask manufacturers to lay off more than 5,000 workers, according to the American Mask Manufacturer’s Association.

“With the virus getting worse—and we’re not even into the cold months—we’re really worried that this industry won’t be here to help when it’s needed most,” Brent Dillie, AMMA chair, told the news site.

The association, which officially launched in April, is advocating for Congress to raise standards on masks purchased by state and local governments, school districts and hospitals. Masks made in China do not meet standards put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to AMMA.

The industry is also hoping to tap into President Biden’s initiative to ensure the federal government purchases American-made products, according to The Hill.

U.S. mask makers face “unfair competition for PPE contracts at home due to foreign suppliers,” according to a statement on AAMA’s website. The association has appealed to the World Trade Organization, claiming that China’s state subsidized production allows it to monopolize the market.

The group also lobbied the U.S. Agency for International Development to buy masks from its members, according to The Hill. AMMA paid $100,000 to LSN Partners to lobby Congress, USAID, the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget on mask procurement in the second quarter of 2021, the news site reported.

“If these mask manufacturers close, it won’t be possible to restart production the next time our government encounters a crisis requiring PPE. Without federal intervention, we won’t even have the machines needed to produce the masks, nor the ability to retrain new employees to operate them,” Dillie said in a statement on AMMA’s website.

AMMA represents more than 25 small-business mask manufacturers “that answered the call for emergency personal protective equipment (PPE) during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the association’s website.