President Donald Trump is set to issue a “Buy American” executive order which aims to eliminate the U.S.’s reliance on foreign-made medical supplies.
White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro confirmed Wednesday the administration is working on the executive order.
Amid the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, America’s reliance on foreign nations — in particular China — for critical medical supplies was exposed.
“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,” Navarro told The New York Times. “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.”
Navarro said Trump’s executive order 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.
“Nothing we do now will impede in any way our ability to get what we need when we need it from foreign sources,” Navarro told CBS.
The announcement of the “Buy American” executive order came after senators in a Tuesday meeting with Trump had expressed concerns over how the U.S. has allows foreign countries, especially China, to dominate supply chains for medical supplies.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he asked Trump to support the Senate’s “efforts to invest in diversifying our supply chain, especially in pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.”
The order would prevent federal agencies from purchasing medical supplies, including face masks, gloves and ventilators, from China.
“As the United States has battled the domestic spread of coronavirus, consumers were alerted to the fact that China manufactures an overwhelming percentage of the federal government’s medical equipment. 90 percent of all U.S. antibiotics were manufactured in China,” The Daily Caller noted in a March 11 report.
China has prevented the export of surgical face masks, severely limiting supplies in the U.S. and countries around the world.
Navarro estimated the Trump administration will announce the executive order in the coming weeks, adding that this is not just a medical issue but also blosters “our very national defense.”