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US and 17 Allies Attack Supply Chain Disruption

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo co-hosted a Supply Chain Ministerial Forum this week to build cooperation with stakeholders and key partner nations on supply chains.

At the Ministerial Plenary on Wednesday, the United States, allies and partners made political commitments to work together to address near-term supply chain disruptions. They aim to cooperate on building long-term supply chain resiliency by supporting transparency, diversification, security and sustainability by adherence to high environmental and labor standards, including the prevention of forced labor, coupled with workforce development.

The virtual event convened stakeholders from labor, industry, civil society and subnational officials to address both short-term bottlenecks and longer-term supply chain challenges.

The United States, allies and partners acknowledged that to ensure efforts on supply chains are effective and reach those most in need, they must build solutions from the bottom up, with industry, unions, labor and civil society, including representatives from minority and indigenous populations, underserved communities and subnational governments.

“The shocks to global supply chains from pandemics, wars and conflicts, extreme climate impacts and natural disasters have put in stark relief the urgent need to further strengthen supply chains, to work to reduce and end near-term disruptions and to build long-term resilience,” the U.S. and the 17 partner economies said in a joint statement. “This is a global challenge we intend to approach resolutely and cooperatively.”

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Australia, Brazil, Canada, Congo, European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. said after the 2022 Supply Chain Ministerial Forum that they intend to work together on crisis response in an effort to alleviate near-term transportation, logistics and supply chain disruptions and bottlenecks, as well as the long-term resilience challenges that make supply chains vulnerable and cause spillover effects for consumers, large and small businesses, workers and families.

“To ensure this effort is effective and reaches those most in need, we intend to engage on this work with businesses, workers, academia, labor and civil society, including women, representatives from local and other communities, consistent with participants’ domestic laws and international obligations, and different levels of government,” they said. “Building collective, long-term resilient supply chains based on international partnerships is critical to the success of this effort.”

The participants pledged to follow several global supply chain principles. They intend to promote transparency to strengthen the resilience of supply chains through advanced information sharing, and to the extent possible common approaches and early warning systems, about potential, emerging and systematic supply challenges.

They aim to promote diversification and increase global capacities for multiple, reliable and sustainable sources of materials and inputs, intermediate goods and finished goods in priority sectors, along with logistics infrastructure capacities, and increasing resilience of supply chains to make their economies less vulnerable to disruptions and shocks.

“We intend to explore opportunities to promote public and private investment into supply chains in priority sectors and to encourage partnerships and co-investment for access to and development of environmentally and socially responsibly sourced materials and inputs,” they said.

In addition, they want to promote the adoption of digital technologies by micro-, small and medium sized companies. To advance the principles of equity and inclusion, they aim and strive to ensure investments are made into a broad range of communities throughout their economies.

“Predictability is important to resilient supply chains and we will aim to work together to promote predictability, openness, fairness and nondiscrimination in our economic relations as they impact our supply chains,” they said. “We will aim to reinforce and foster our longstanding, rules-based economic partnerships and supply chain relationships.”

To promote supply chain security, the intention is to deepen consultations to identify and address risks arising from supply dependencies and potential vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure. They plan to work together to address mutual vulnerabilities and work to eliminate corruption in support of supply chain security.

Addressing global sustainability, they group said it will encourage responsible business conduct across supply chains, as well as objectives set out in relevant multilateral environmental agreements, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. They also will encourage adoption of responsible business practices and recognize the importance of implementing our respective obligations under international labor conventions ratified by respective countries along the entire value chain “to ensure that opening up new sourcing or supply chain options does not shortcut existing commitments to uphold human rights.  This includes our intent to cooperate to eradicate the use of forced labor in global supply chains.”

“We aim to foster the increased use of recycled materials and product components,” they added. “ We also aim to foster and support the fair and sustainable manufacturing and trade of products…including through circular economy, the bioeconomy and other approaches that advance the fight against climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and which advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

This summit was part of the Biden-Harris administration’s whole-of-government response to address supply chain disruptions that hamper economic recovery and fuel inflation.