Washington, January 25
US President Joe Biden will sign a series of executive orders on Monday to promote “Made in America” products and strengthen supply chains, senior officials have said, asserting that the new administration remained committed to working with partners and allies to modernise international trade rules.
Prominent among the executive orders include strict enforcement of procuring products made inside the country by federal agencies. This is very significant given that contracting alone accounts for nearly $600 billion in federal spending.
Biden is taking action to reset the US government’s longstanding approach to domestic preferences to create an approach that will remain durable for years to come and grow quality, union jobs, according to a senior administration official.
It was long overdue that the US government utilised the full force of current domestic preferences to support America’s workers and businesses, strengthening the economy, workers, and communities across the country, the official said.
“The President’s Executive Order establishes the goals and standards necessary to use federal purchasing, and other forms of federal assistance with domestic preference requirements, as a way to proactively invest in American industry so it can continue to lead in the global marketplace,” the White House said.
For the executive order, “Made in America” referred to domestic preferences related to federal procurement, federal grants and other forms of federal assistance. “Buy American and Buy America” referred to the specific statutes that go by those names, it said.
The executive order to be signed by Biden at the White House directs agencies to close current loopholes in how domestic content is measured and increase domestic content requirements and appoints a new senior leader in the Executive Office of the President in charge of the government’s “Made in America” policy approach.
This order creates a central review of agency waivers of ‘Buy American’ requirements, fulfilling the president’s commitment to crack down on unnecessary waivers. It also directs the General Services Administration to publish relevant waivers on a publicly available website.
The President will continue to be a strong advocate for the Jones Act and its mandate that only the US-flag vessels carry cargo between the US ports, which supports American production and America’s workers.
With the signing of the 2021 National Defence Authorisation Act, the Jones Act has also been affirmed as an opportunity to invest in America’s workers as the US builds offshore renewable energy, in line with the President’s goals to build a clean energy future in America.
The order requires agencies to report on their implementation of current “Made in America” laws and make recommendations for achieving the president’s “Made in America” goals, and to continue to do so on a bi-annual basis.
“This order is deeply intertwined with President Joe Biden’s commitment to invest in American manufacturing, including clean energy and critical supply chains, grow good-paying, union jobs, and advance racial equity. The federal government should buy from suppliers that are growing the sectors of the future and treating their workers with dignity and respect,” the White House said.
“We remain committed to working with partners and allies to modernise international trade rules — including those related to government procurement — to make sure all countries can use their taxpayer dollars to spur investment in their own countries,” said a senior administration official.
“The purpose is to strengthen supply chains so that we are more resilient to that type of weaknesses that we’ve seen emerge in the COVID environment and we’re never put in a position where we are reliant on countries who don’t share our interest,” the official said.
Responding to a question, the official said the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed significant weaknesses in a number of critical supply chains in the US.
“While we’re seeing that most acutely in the context of health-related materials, it has exposed weaknesses in supply chains for other critical materials whether from semiconductors to inputs critical metals that are input into batteries,” the official said.
Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump believed that the “Made in America” policy was important for the country’s economy and reviving the manufacturing sector. It was a key part of Trump’s election campaign.
In July last year, Trump signed an executive order that raised the standards for products to be designated as “Made in America”.
“The philosophy of my administration is simple: If we can build it, grow it or make it in the United States, we will,” Trump had said as he made rounds of the “Made in America products” on the lawns of the White House. PTI