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Biden to sign executive order targeting U.S. supply chains in critical areas

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President Joe Biden plans to sign an executive order on Wednesday to strengthen U.S. supply chains in several sectors to support the economy and protect workers, administration officials said.

The decree would strengthen supply chains for critical products mainly in four areas: pharmaceuticals, rare earths, semiconductor chips and high capacity batteries. Officials said the order was driven, in part, by the widespread shortage of personal protective equipment and supply chain issues at the start of the coronavirus pandemic under the Trump administration.

The command is designed to complement Biden’s previous decree for promote products made in America to strengthen U.S. supply chains and ensure critical materials are made in the United States, an official said.

“This order is the president’s next step to invest in American workers,” the official said.

There have been reports manufacturing shortages in the automotive and tech sectors due to the pandemic, and recent study by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has suggested that trade restrictions and the pandemic could significantly disrupt the delivery of health care supplies.

Each of the four areas identified by the Order will undergo a 100-day review to assess vulnerabilities and areas for improvement. Other areas identified by the administration, such as organic preparation, food production and transportation, will undergo one-year reviews to help the government predict and correct errors.

Officials said they also see bipartisan support from Congress to pass legislation to codify the basic elements of the order.

The order will not target China, the official said.

But officials avoided the question of whether this was aimed at competing with China. The administration this month reviewed the fundamentals of US policy toward China under the Trump administration and discovered “deep problems” with its policy toward China.

Biden spoke by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping this month for the first time since taking office and raised “fundamental concerns” about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair economic practices”, among others.

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