Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has released a plan to rebuild U.S. supply chains, with the aim of insuring the nation against shortages on essential goods in the event of a future crisis like the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, the former vice president’s campaign published a memorandum detailing how his administration would work to shift production on a range of “critical products”—including energy and grid resilience technologies, semiconductors, electronics, telecommunications infrastructure, and key raw materials—back to the U.S. or its allies from countries like China.
If elected, Biden said he would put in place an “ongoing, comprehensive government-wide process to monitor supply chain vulnerabilities,” and work to close the identified gaps by collaborating with the private sector to ensure U.S. productivity and cost-effectiveness.
“The goal here is not pure self-sufficiency, but broad-based resilience,” the campaign said, adding that the plan would ensure that the U.S. doesn’t have to contend with a shortage on essential items like personal protective equipment (PPE), medical devices and pharmaceuticals going forward.
The administration would aim to do this through a three-pronged plan to rebuild domestic production; create strategic stockpiles of vital items to guarantee that the country has access to critical supplies; and work with America’s allies to protect their supply chains and to open new markets to U.S. exports.
The Biden camp said a 100-day review of the nation’s supply-chain capabilities would take place immediately upon entering office, with the goal of identifying national security risks across the country’s international supply chains. The candidate said he would ask Congress to enact a mandatory critical supply-chain review, which would take place every four years in perpetuity.
Bolstering American manufacturing
Biden’s campaign said he would invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to put Americans to work producing urgently needed supplies like PPE. The DPA grants the commander in chief authority to mobilize domestic production and refocus its efforts on emergency preparedness. The memo’s writers said the Trump administration “is still dragging its feet” on using the DPA, and thus has “fallen far short” of the stateside manufacturing needed to free the country from dependence on foreign bodies.
Biden would also use federal purchasing power to bolster U.S. manufacturing, ensuring its capacity to create products designated as essential for national security. The Procurement Act of 1949 imbues the president with the authority to establish “policies and directives” for federal procurement, and the Biden campaign said he would use this privilege to invest in building up capacities in the U.S. supply chain.
Biden would also work to build out a resilient, long-term solution for pharmaceutical independence, the campaign said, as the current crisis has highlighted vulnerabilities in the country’s medical device and medication supply chains.
Stockpiling critical supplies
As president, Biden would aim to identify and address vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain, directing federal agencies to identify the “specific, critical products” needed in future crises in order to stockpile these supplies. These items would be manufactured by Americans “to the greatest extent possible,” the memo said, adding, “Our country should not face shortages in the future like those we are facing today under Trump.”
Federal stockpiles of medical supplies and critical goods like PPE would be augmented, and on-shoring production of these goods would be incentivized, the campaign said.
Companies would be required to develop contingency plans to address potential supply-chain disruptions for critical products. What’s more, Biden would work with Congress and regulatory agencies to ensure that inputs for products were made stateside, and to develop plans to restrict imports from nations like Russia and China, which pose national security threats.
In working with the private sector, Biden would develop standing plans to prepare American producers for surge manufacturing in the event of a national emergency. Companies would receive support in the form of federal compensation for their expanded efforts and accelerated patent and product design approvals. As president, Biden would also invest in a new Critical Supply Chains Workforce Development Fund to pay for the training of workers to craft key supply-chain products and components to build up capacity.
The Biden administration would work with Congress, states, tribes and local governments to disseminate funding, tax credits, research and design support and more to incentivize companies to manufacture in the U.S.
Strengthening ally relationships—and lessening dependence on foes
A Biden administration would work with U.S. allies to protect their supply chains and open up markets to U.S. exports, the memo said.
“Instead of insulting our allies and undermining American global leadership, Biden will engage with our closest partners so that together we can build stronger, more resilient supply chains and economies in the face of 21st century risks,” the campaign wrote. “Just like the United States itself, no U.S. ally should be dependent on critical supplies from countries like China and Russia.”
New approaches to supply-chain security would be developed by the U.S. and its allies, and trade rules would be updated to reflect the strengthening of those bonds.
The administration would hold competitors like China accountable for underhanded tactics, like selling raw materials to U.S. companies at inflated prices. New trade policies and regulations would open up markets to American-made products, with the aim of reducing reliance on countries like China for trade partnership over time.
“This is a win-win for the U.S. and the world,” the campaign said.