The White House is working on a “Buy American” executive order which could end U.S. reliance on foreign-made medical supplies.
White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro confirmed the news yesterday after senators raised the issue with President Trump during a Tuesday meeting on Capitol Hill.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted yesterday that he asked President Trump “to support our efforts to invest in diversifying our supply chain, especially in pharmaceuticals & medical equipment. He agreed & his team led by by Peter Navarro are also working on an EO to help address this.”
At yesterday’s lunch I asked @POTUS to support our efforts to invest in diversifying our supply chain, especially in pharmaceuticals & medical equipment.
He agreed & his team led by by Peter Navarro are also working on an EO to help address this. https://t.co/WlX7u158rV
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 11, 2020
Rubio said, “The coronavirus outbreak has been a wake-up call that we must combat America’s supply chain vulnerabilities and dependence on China in critical sectors of our economy.”
Navarro told the New York Times, “China has managed to dominate all aspects of the supply chain using the same unfair trade practices that it has used to dominate other sectors — cheap sweatshop labor, lax environmental regulations and massive government subsidies. As President Trump has said, what we need to do is bring those jobs home so that we can protect the public health and the economic and national security of the country.”
The Daily Caller writes that Navarro “added that the EO would cover more than 400 ‘essential medicines’ that ‘satisfy the priority health care needs of the population.’ Additional products targeted in the order include ‘medical countermeasures’ made to protect against chemical and biological threats, radiation, nuclear fallout and infectious diseases like coronavirus.”
The executive order would also prohibit federal agencies from purchasing medical supplies such as surgical masks, gloves and ventilators from China.
The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic has exposed how reliant the U.S. has become on foreign-made medical supplies and in recent years, China supplied 90 percent of America’s antibiotics and 70 percent of acetaminophen. Most drug manufacturing has moved overseas and the last American plant to make the key ingredients for penicillin closed its doors in 2004. The disease also threatens the production of approximately 150 prescription drugs, including some without an alternative on the market, according to Axios.
Navarro told the Washington Examiner that the executive order is not just about public health but about national security as well and says the order will be announced in the coming weeks.