In a development pregnant with possibilities, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated, the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic shows that the United States is way too dependent on cheap foreign imports for key strategic medical supplies.
The statement underscores the need for the United States to tweak its domestic manufacturing policy in light of such strategic vulnerabilities that have been laid bare by the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
Talking to trade ministers from G20, Lighthizer said, there was a need to resolve supply chain disruptions and be aware of the impact of its actions on neighbors.
“Unfortunately, like others, we are learning in this crisis that over-dependence on other countries as a source of cheap medical products and supplies has created a strategic vulnerability to our economy,” said Lighthizer. “For the United States, we are encouraging diversification of supply chains and seeking to promote more manufacturing at home.”
He also warned against efforts to use the health and economic crisis to push “other agendas,” be it trade or otherwise, saying such efforts would sow distrust.
Many officials are concerned that China could capitalize on the crisis and push for tariff relief before fulfilling its purchase commitments under the Phase 1 U.S.-China trade deal which was signed earlier this year in January.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro is in the process of crafting an executive order that would expand “Buy America” provisions to the medical and pharmaceutical sectors.
Last week, in a telling statement Navarro said 97% of antibiotics sold in the United States come from China.