World News

Germany tasks its big international companies with procurement challenge

BERLIN/HAMBURG (Reuters) – German companies with international experience and supply chains have been commissioned to help the government procure difficult-to-obtain supplies as part of the country’s response to the coronavirus crisis, a government document showed.

According to the paper, seen by Reuters on Thursday, representatives of companies including BASF <BASFn.DE>, Lufthansa <LHAG.DE> and Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> have been delegated to a government-wide procurement body.

“These companies will use their experience and contacts on foreign markets to arrange procurement and logistics,” the paper read. Essential equipment like protective masks are in short supply around the world due to the spike in demand caused by the pandemic.

Spokespeople for Volkswagen and BMW <BMWG.DE> confirmed they are part of the body, which they said had been tasked to procure medical supplies, including masks.

“We are in close contact with authorities on a state and federal level,” a BMW spokeswoman said, adding the carmaker was also looking into the production of medical masks.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket, Jan Schwartz, Joern Poltz; Writing by Thomas Escritt and Christoph Steitz; Editing by Michelle Martin and Elaine Hardcastle)