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The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says he doesn’t believe it’s necessary to ‘reshore’ all industrial production to the United States, which runs counter to President Donald Trump’s “America First” mindset and strategy to reinvigorate American manufacturing.
In an online conference this week, Chamber CEO Tom Donohue cautioned about “reshoring” too much of the supply chain from China back to the U.S., Reuters reported.
“Protecting the resiliency of our supply chain doesn’t have to mean reshoring all production in the United States,” he said.
While it may be that the U.S. will need to bolster its domestic production capabilities in the future for some industries, “there will also need to continue to be a huge place in the U.S. economy for a global supply chain,” Donohue said.
But that message runs afoul of President Trump’s objective of returning as much manufacturing back to the United States as possible, a necessity he and members of his administration say was only emphasized by domestic shortages of vital products and pharmaceuticals during the coronavirus pandemic.
Just this week, President Trump touted efforts to return pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the U.S., announcing a multi-million dollar contract with Virginia-based Phlow Corp., a start-up that plans to make several generic medications including some used to treat COVID-19.
“This is a great day for America. This has all of the elements of the Trump strategy,” said Peter Navarro, one of the president’s top economic advisers who is leading the ‘return to America’ effort.
“It’s made in the USA. It’s innovation that will allow American workers to compete with the pollution havens, sweatshops and tax havens of the world,” he added.
Returning most pharmaceutical manufacturing to the U.S. would alone create hundreds of thousands of new, good-paying jobs, according to a recent study by the Coalition for a Prosperous America.
“The US is dependent on China for over one-third of all the antibiotics we import, and in the case of many generic drugs, we are completely dependent on China,” the organization noted in a report.
“We found that an ambitious but realistic reshoring program could create 804,000 US jobs and add $200 billion to annual GDP in the first year,” it continued. “The benefits in terms of security of supply are separate, and in times like the present, critically important.”
At present, some 80 percent of drugs prescribed in the U.S. are manufactured overseas, with the bulk coming from 10 countries: Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, India, Denmark, Belgium, Canada, United Kingdom, and Japan.
And while China is farther down the list, it’s important to note that many of the ingredients used in the manufacture of those drugs come from that country.
“We should never be reliant on a foreign country for the means of our own survival. I think we’ve learned a lot,” Trump said in late March as it became apparent that the U.S. had become far too reliant on China for personal protective equipment.
“This crisis has underscored just how critical it is to have strong borders and a robust manufacturing sector,” he added.
Trump has taken on the Chamber of Commerce before, though most Republicans are hesitant to do so.
In June 2016 as he appeared to be sailing to the GOP presidential nomination, Trump, in a campaign speech, chastised a series of global ‘free trade’ agreements he said were responsible for offshoring tens of millions of U.S. jobs over decades.
He came under immediate fire from the ‘America last’ Chamber.
— U.S. Chamber (@USChamber) June 28, 2016
But the soon-to-be president counterattacked, blasting the Chamber for not doing more to promote American jobs and workers.
In his first three years, Trump managed to renegotiate several previous trade deals including the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, and won concessions from China after slamming the country with tariffs. The economy was red-hot before coronavirus shut it down and governors’ orders threw nearly 40 million Americans out of work.
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