Biden signs orders to address supply chain concerns

Biden signs executive orders to address vulnerabilities in supply chains

Biden said that the solution to supply chain issues will be to increase domestic production in certain industries

US President Joe Biden speaks on US supply chains, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Wednesday, February 24, 2021, in Washington. Credit: AP/PTI Photo

President Joe Biden has signed a series of executive orders to address vulnerabilities in supply chains across additional critical sectors of the US economy in an effort to boost domestic production and avoid shortages in goods amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The executive order, Biden told reporters on Wednesday is about making sure that the country can meet every challenge it faces in this new era — pandemics, but also in defence, cybersecurity, climate change, and so much more.

The order will help address the vulnerabilities in “our supply chains across additional critical sectors of our economy so that the American people are prepared to withstand any crisis and rely on ourselves.”

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“And the best way to do that is by protecting and sharpening America's competitive edge by investing here at home. As I've said from the beginning, while I was running: We're going to invest in America. We're going to invest in American workers. And then we can be in a much better position to even compete beyond what we're doing now,” Biden said.

He said that the solution to supply chain issues will be to increase domestic production in certain industries as well as work with allies to prevent future shortages.

Observing that the US needs to make sure these supply chains are secure and reliable, Biden said that he is directing senior officials in his administration to work with industrial leaders to identify solutions to this semiconductor shortfall and work very hard with the House and Senate.

One of the executive orders signed by him orders a 100-day review of four vital products: semiconductors; key minerals and materials, like rare earths, that are used to make everything from harder steel to airplanes; three, pharmaceuticals and their ingredients; four, advanced batteries, like the ones used in electric vehicles, he said.

“There's strong bipartisan support for fast reviews of these four areas because they're essential to protecting and strengthening American competitiveness,” Biden said adding that this order initiates a long-term review of the industry basis of six sectors of the overall economy over the next year.

These reviews will identify policy recommendations to fortify supply chains.

“It should be to fortify our supply chains at every step, and critically, to start implementing those recommendations right away.

"We're not going to wait for a review to be completed before we start closing the existing gaps,” he added.

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Later, Biden met with a bipartisan group of House and Senate members to discuss supply chain resilience and the need to work together in strengthening it.

At a White House news conference, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council Sameera Fazili told reporters that creating more resilient supply chains is an opportunity for the country to come together to create well-paying jobs for workers across the US.

“We know that even before the Covid crisis, the economy was not working for most Americans. Worker pay was too low. Many families could not make ends meet. Many of the jobs that served as the heart of the middle class had been lost due to changes in both technology and the structure of the global economy,” she said.

“Disruption is inevitable. But over the past few years, we have moved from crisis to crisis when some essential product was suddenly in short supply. What we need is the capacity to respond quickly when hit by a challenge. This executive order moves the whole government towards being more prepared,” she said.

The executive orders signed by Biden asks agencies to review risks in supply chains and in domestic industrial bases, Fazili said.

“They're going to think broadly about risk. There's climate risk and geopolitical risk, but there's also risk in not having enough workers ready to meet the needs of that sector, or enough factories or the right equipment to make a good — or retool a shift — to shift to a new spike in demand for an essential good,” she said.

Fazili said that a big part of this executive order is consultation with stakeholders and experts.

“This is a real opportunity to invest in the future of America and build on our nation's strengths. There are opportunities for small-business development to help diversify supplier networks and alleviate the risk of “too big to fail” companies in the supply chains for critical goods,” she added. 

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