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NCTO Says Biden’s Orders Will Boost US PPE Supply Chains

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) welcomed President Biden’s action plan and Covid-19 response issued Thursday, including an executive order to strengthen U.S. supply chains by directing federal agencies to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to address shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and related vaccine supplies.

“We are closely reviewing President Biden’s national strategic plan to confront the pandemic and welcome the executive order signed today to strengthen our supply chains by directing all federal agencies to use the Defense Production Act to address shortages of personal protective equipment, vaccine supplies and essential products,” NCTO president and CEO Kim Glas said. “These are important steps that will help ramp up critical manufacturing of these essential PPE products and other critically needed supplies like tests and vaccines.”

Glas noted that American manufacturers have been at the forefront of the effort to build a domestic PPE supply chain since the onset of the pandemic. The U.S. textile industry retooled production and operations virtually overnight, producing millions of face masks, isolation gowns, testing swabs and other critical medical textiles.

The industry is dedicated to making significant investments in automated equipment for PPE, but the industry needs long-term, multiyear contracts to help realize that investment, Glas said. The deployment of DPA is one of the critical tools that will help incentivize investment in equipment, propel the hiring of U.S. workers and expand these critical production chains, she noted.

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Glas noted that since its inception, the DPA has been utilized by the Department of Defense to make critical investments in domestic textile manufacturing infrastructure and capacity, creating private-public partnerships through the government’s capital investments under the DPA and guaranteeing purchases through long-term contracts.

NCTO anticipates further steps, including a reported order that will seek to strengthen government procurement of U.S. products, in the coming days. Glas said the industry has outlined critical steps that are necessary to strengthen the U.S. supply chain for essential products.

These include expanding investment in American-made PPE, appointing a high-level Covid-19 coordinating supply chain team, continued support for tariffs and strong trade enforcement, particularly against China, and providing targeted stimulus to U.S. manufacturers and workers.

In his executive action, Biden called for taking “appropriate action using all available legal authorities, including the Defense Production Act, to fill…shortfalls as soon as practicable by acquiring additional stockpiles, improving distribution systems, building market capacity or expanding the industrial base.”

“Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, the COVID-19 Response Coordinator, and the heads of any agencies or entities selected by the APNSA and COVID-19 Response Coordinator, shall provide to the President a strategy to design, build, and sustain a long-term capability in the United States to manufacture supplies for future pandemics and biological threats,” Biden’s order said.

Biden also called for “an approach to develop a multi-year implementation plan for domestic production of pandemic supplies.”

“We look forward to working with this administration and members of Congress to push legislation that will help bring these critical supply chains onshore permanently,” Glas said.