#National Security and Investigations-Biden-ordered review of supply chain to include electric car batteries, medical supplies and rare earth metals

Author : jimmyn
Publish Date : 2021-02-18 05:53:14


#National Security and Investigations-Biden-ordered review of supply chain to include electric car batteries, medical supplies and rare earth metals

WASHINGTON - President Biden will sign a memorandum of understanding calling for the government to release detailed reports of key companies and their chains, including semiconductor manufacturing, electric car batteries, medical, and rare ground items such as those used in Phones and military. system.

The Executive Order, first quoted by Reuters and quoted by White House journalist Jen Psaki last week, specifies specific types of technologies critical to the US supply chain, individual focus areas and the number of threats that could affect access to essential resources. . 

Psaki said the order will be issued in the coming weeks. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States government is under increasing pressure to understand the sprawling network of companies, both domestic and foreign, that produce and obtain important products and goods. Recent events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the SolarWinds breach that have affected government and private networks, have brought to light the problem further.

According to the draft executive order, the Biden administration will require a 100-day review of the supply chain in light of threats - such as pandemics, cyberattacks and extreme weather events - that may pose a risk to access to essential goods. The draft also identifies specific sectors the White House hopes to review, from the defense industrial base to the energy and transportation industries.

Specifically, Biden is directing the executive to take a hard look at the semiconductor manufacturing industry; High-capacity batteries, including those used in electric cars; Rare earth materials and medical supplies. China is a strong competitor in these sectors. For example, in the past decade, China accounted for more than 90 percent of the production and supply of rare earth elements used in products ranging from iPhones to lasers, according to a 2017 US Geological Survey.

Employees handle vehicle batteries at a Chinese factory
Employees handle vehicle batteries at a facility in Hefei, China, in December. (Qilay Chen / Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Within a year, the White House will request a written assessment of vital commodities, which should include a review of the capabilities needed to produce them, a review of the various factors that could affect production, and the resilience of US industrial sectors, among other areas.

Securing the supply chain is one of the many major foreign policy challenges the White House faces in Biden early in the administration. The decision to order an expanded review aligns with the White House's apparent preference to move slowly and deliberately on complex foreign policy matters, in consultation with allies and experts.

The Biden administration is not the first to express concerns about these issues. The Trump administration issued an executive order in October aimed at reviewing rare earth mineral mining and proposing ways to boost domestic production and reduce dependence on China. 

A source familiar with the issue, Mark Esper, who served as Trump's defense secretary, described rare earth element production as the Industrial Base's Priority No. 1 before the pandemic, and the Biden administration appears to be continuing those efforts. . The Pentagon earlier this month announced a contract with Australian firm Lynas Rare Earth "to create indigenous processing capabilities" for "light rare earth elements", an effort that began under the previous administration.

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According to another industry source, government investigators reviewing transactions with foreign relations in the final days of the Trump administration have intensified their focus on semiconductors and the energy sector, looking for additional information on any foreign company or entity that might have access to the electrical grid. The question is whether the Biden administration will provide any other specific instructions to the industry on complying with foreign investment rules and other requirements, such as cybersecurity standards, which the Trump administration has largely failed to do, the source said.



Category : business

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