President Biden Orders Pandemic Supply Chain Review For 4 Key Industries

Joe Biden will sign an executive order this week that will call for the review of global supply chains responsible for providing pandemic gear to the nation.

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The executive order will require a review of supply chains responsible for providing medical equipment, semiconductors, and other critical goods being used to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The order will “institute 100-day reviews of the global producers and shippers for: computer chips used in consumer products; large-capacity batteries for electric vehicles; pharmaceuticals and their active ingredients; and critical minerals used in electronics,” according to the Associative Press.  

The point of these reviews is to determine whether or not the US is too heavily reliant on foreign suppliers for these necessary supplies, particularly China. A senior administration official spoke with the press and explained that other vulnerabilities, such as extreme weather and climate change, are also being considered due to the fact that these can delay international shipments for weeks depending on how severe the conditions are. 

“Clearly we are looking at the risks posed by dependence on competitor nations, but that is only one of a range of risks we are looking at,” the official said, explaining that the order will also call for a yearlong review of all defense, public health, information technology, transportation, energy, and food production sectors in the US. 

“These executive reviews will be modeled after the process the Defense Department uses to regularly evaluate and strengthen the defense industrial base of the United States.”

If any risks are identified within these critical sector’s supply chains then the administration will begin pushing for those businesses to move their suppliers back to the mainland US, or other allied nations, and out of whatever country is currently providing the supply. 

“Resilient supply chains are not the same thing as all products being made in America. That’s not our intention here,” explained the administration official. The US doesn’t want to ander any of its current supply chain allies like Canada and the European Union, however, the Biden administration has already been pushing it with the “Buy American” provisions that Biden emphasized within his first weeks in office. 

It’s still unclear how the Biden administration would go about making these companies shift where their supply chains are located should risks appear. They could enact the Defense Production Act if the risks are high, which would force companies to produce certain goods domestically; this Act was initially created back in the Cold War-era.

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“For now the White House is not taking anything off the table when it comes to combating these risks. Strategies to fix the supply chains will really depend on the weak spots identified.”

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The order couldn’t have come at a better time for automakers throughout the US who are currently claiming that the global shortage in semiconductors is forcing a lot of manufacturers to halt auto production for weeks at a time. Semiconductors are the computer chips located in devices like cell phones as well as SUV’s. 

Ford and Volkswagen are specifically worried about the current battery supply chain for the US. The two companies recently told US trade authorities that they would have to “delay production of their new electric vehicle lines if their battery supplier – Korean firm SK Innovation – was blacklisted for intellectual property theft.” The International Trade Commission did block those batteries from entering the US previously, however, automakers had a grace period to find new suppliers. 

“We’re going to get out of the business of reacting to supply chain crises as they arise, and get into the business of getting ahead of future supply chain problems,” the senior administration official explained to the press in regards to the automaker’s concerns. 

Widespread shortages of masks and other medical protective gear will be reviewed first, as back in the beginning of the pandemic many hospitals and healthcare providers found themselves barely having enough PPE gear for their staff. The White House claims it’s aiming to get out in front of those issues “next time around,” so time will tell what adjustments are actually made after these reviews.