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Trump invokes Defense Production Act to force GM to make ventilators

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Washington (AFP)

President Donald Trump issued a federal order Friday to force auto giant General Motors to manufacture ventilators, as supplies of the crucial hospital equipment grow short and coronavirus infections mount across the country.

Trump invoked the rarely-used Defense Production Act to order GM to speed up its commitment to make ventilators in one of its auto plants after delays in negotiations.

The act, designed for use in wartime to commandeer private business to manufacture for defense needs, will allow the White House to require GM "accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators," Trump said in a statement.

"Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course," Trump said.

"GM was wasting time. Today's action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives."

Earlier in the day Trump demanded in a tweet that both GM and rival Ford move quickly on fabricating ventilators, essential to help seriously ill coronavirus patients breathe.

GM quickly answered back that it had a deal with medical equipment maker Ventec Life Systems to build the critical care equipment in its Kokomo, Indiana, auto plant, and would likely be able to begin shipping some next month.

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