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Biden to sign executive order aimed at securing critical US supply chains



(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden will sign a new executive order Wednesday mandating a 100-day review of critical product supply chains in the U.S. focused on those for computer chips, large capacity batteries, active pharmaceutical ingredients and critical minerals and strategic materials, including rare earth minerals.

The order is part of the administration’s effort to secure domestic supply chains in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that highlighted vulnerabilities that currently exist.

“We’re going to get out of the business of reacting to supply chain crises as they arise, and get into the business of getting ahead with future supply chain problems,” an administration official said on a call previewing the executive order.

“This problem is not going to be solved by government acting alone, or the private sector acting alone. It will require a new commitment to public-private partnerships that demonstrate the tremendous potential that can be realized when you listen to the voices of communities and workers,” the official said.

In addition to the 100-day review of four supply chains, Biden’s executive order will also call for six sector-specific supply chain reviews, including defense, public health and biological preparedness, energy and food production.

Officials said these reviews will be completed within a year, but did not have a timeline for implementing changes as a result from the reviews.

The officials acknowledge that the United States’ reliance on competitors for certain products was one problem that exists, but repeatedly shot down the idea that the order was focused on China and its foothold on many essential products.

“We really do see this as a resilient supply chain executive order, not a China executive order, though clearly one of the vulnerabilities we have in supply chains is the potential for competitors, strategic competitor nations to try to use control of our supply chains against us,” an official said.

“So you know that is certainly one of the vulnerabilities we are looking at, but by no means, as we were talking about earlier, is the only one,” the official said.

Officials also stressed that building up America’s supply chains would not mean America going it alone, but would see the country work with allies as part of the efforts to address weaknesses overall.

In addition to signing the executive order, Biden will also hold an Oval Office meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss the issue, according to his daily schedule.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted some vulnerabilities in U.S. supply chains, including the ongoing shortage of semiconductor “chips” for automobiles.

According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the auto industry reduced production in the early months of the pandemic while demand dropped for cars but surged for chips used in computers and equipment needed for distance learning and working from home.

However, demand for chips for cars increased at a faster pace than expected, leading to the current shortage of supplies to produce the chips. Officials said the administration is actively engaging with automakers to address the issue.

“I think there are a bunch of lessons that we can take from the work we’ve been doing on the auto chip shortage that’ll be more broadly applicable,” an advisor said.

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