Biden to sign executive order targeting America’s supply chains in critical areas

President Joe Biden plans to sign an executive order Wednesday seeking to strengthen America’s supply chains in several sectors to bolster the economy and protect workers, administration officials said.

The executive order would strengthen supply chains for critical goods primarily in mainly four areas: pharmaceuticals, rare earth minerals, semiconductor chips and large-capacity batteries. Officials said the order was prompted, in part, by the widespread shortage of personal protective equipment and supply chain issues at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic during the Trump administration.

The order is designed to supplement Biden’s earlier executive order to promote products made in America to bolster American supply chains and make sure that critical materials are made in the U.S., an official said.

“This order is the president’s next steps in investing in American workers,” the official said.

There have been reports of manufacturing shortages in the auto and tech industries because of the pandemic, and a recent study by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists suggested that trade restrictions and the pandemic could significantly disrupt the delivery of health care supplies.

Each of the four sectors identified by the order will undergo a 100-day review to assess vulnerabilities and areas for improvement. Other sectors identified by the administration, such as biological preparedness, food production and transportation, will undergo one-year reviews to help the government foresee and correct mistakes.

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The 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 sidestepped a question about whether this was aimed at competing with China. The administration this month reviewed the core elements of U.S. policy toward China during the Trump administration and found “deep problems” with its policies toward China.

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

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