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Biden Orders Supply Chain Review to Assess US Dependence on Foreign Semiconductors

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President Joe Biden will order his administration to conduct a review of major U.S. supply chains, including those for semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, medical supplies and rare earths.

The assessment, which will be conducted by members of Biden’s economic and national security teams, will analyze the “resilience and ability of US manufacturing supply chains and the defense industrial base to support national security.” [and] emergency preparedness ”, according to a draft decree seen by CNBC.

The text of the decree is being finalized and the final wording may differ from the current draft.

The White House plans to examine gaps in manufacturing and national supply chains that are dominated by or run through “nations that are or are likely to become hostile or unstable.”

Although the ordinance does not mention China, the directive is likely largely an effort by the administration to determine how much the U.S. economy and military depend on a critical group of Chinese exports. Biden said earlier this month his White House was bracing for “extreme competition” with China.

The pending Executive Order is one of the administration’s first tangible efforts to assess and strengthen U.S. trade and defense interests through a thorough examination of the origin of major commodities.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the state of the U.S. economy and the need to pass coronavirus disease assistance (COVID-19) legislation during a dining room address State of the White House in Washington, United States on February 5, 2021.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

The White House review will take place in two phases.

The first will be a 100-day review process, during which officials will analyze and report on a handful of high-priority supply chains, including those for semiconductor manufacturing and packaging, batteries of electric and high capacity cars, rare earth metals and medical. Provisions.

The second phase starting after the 100-day specific review will expand the administration’s investigation to various sectors, including the production of defense, public health, energy and transport equipment.

Once these two elements are completed, one year after the publication of the ordinance, the working group will submit recommendations to the president on potential actions, including diplomatic agreements, changes in trade routes or other means of ensuring that supply chains are not monopolized.

The White House did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Defense analysts and politicians on both sides of the political aisle have pointed out in recent years the United States’ dependence on China for rare earth metals, a group of minerals used in the production of advanced technologies, including computer screens, advanced weapons and electric weapons. vehicles as a potential strategic pitfall.

At a meeting of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year, Senator Lisa Murkowski, of R-Alaska, asked panelist Simon Moores what could happen if China decides to cut states. -United minerals.

Moores, chief executive of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, said such a move would leave the United States with few options and prove devastating for the U.S. economy.

“If lithium is something to do, China would stop before militarizing rare earths (blocking exports to the United States) by promoting the economic route of exporting its processing know-how to new mines around the world, “Moores wrote on Twitter in 2019.” Far smarter way to acquire a long-term supply chain. “

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