President Joe Biden will issue an executive order requiring the government to review critical supply chains, in an effort to ensure that the US is not too reliant on other countries, including China, for technology and materials.
Three people familiar with the order, including one senior US official, said it would demand that the government make a broad examination of US supply chains. It would require agencies to examine procurement, in addition to critical technologies and materials in private-sector supply chains.
The move follows a pledge Mr Biden made during the presidential race to address both the vulnerabilities in US medical-related supply chains that were exposed by the pandemic as well as a wide range of technologies and materials used in manufacturing that are important for the US industrial base, including for military purposes.
“What we’re planning is really just to implement the commitment he made on the campaign trail to take a comprehensive look at US supply chain vulnerabilities,” said the senior US official, who stressed that the order was not specifically aimed at China or any particular country.
The official said the administration would take the recommendations from various agencies “to develop proactive steps to close supply chain vulnerabilities not only for government procurement . . . but to really look across the board at supply chains, including very much the private sector”.
He added that the administration would work with US allies to try to reduce some of the current vulnerabilities in American supply chains.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to work with allies and partners on supply chain issues. But we are also obviously, thinking about ways in which we can strengthen our own domestic resilience and add capacity,” he added.
One former official familiar with the debate inside the administration said the order would give agencies one year to come up with classified and non-secret recommendations for steps to implement.
But the senior official said the government would not wait until the end of that period and would implement recommendations as they were made and after evaluation by the National Security Council and the White House National Economic Council.
While the executive order is not expected to single out China — or name the country — it comes as US government agencies are paying much more attention to national and economic security threats from China.
The former official said a draft of the order did not mention China specifically but talked about “competition among great powers”.
Some Biden officials have said that Donald Trump was correct to take a tougher line on China, but that his chaotic approach to policymaking and dismissive attitude towards US allies had been counterproductive.
The US official said the Biden administration wanted to take a less “ad hoc approach” but would look to some of the studies across the government that have already been done — including on rare earths, other critical minerals and semiconductors — as it crafted its own set of policies to address supply chain gaps and vulnerabilities.