WASHINGTON – Today marks one-year since President Biden established the Supply Chain Task Force as part of the Administration’s overall effort to strengthen and secure critical supply chains, lower prices and revitalize American manufacturing. Consistent with its mission to work with other agencies to deliver trade results that benefit the American people and economy, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has brought together a broad range of federal agencies to consider ways to address unfair trade practices that undermine critical U.S. supply chains. The task force is also looking at how we can use our trade tools and trade agreements to make our supply chains more resilient.
Over the past year, the Supply Chain Task Force has focused on critical areas such as pandemic-related supplies, advanced batteries, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals/active pharmaceutical ingredients, and critical materials and permanent magnets. In addition to working with other U.S. government agencies on this effort, USTR is actively engaged and coordinated with like-minded trade partners to develop durable solutions that advance supply chain resiliency in these critical areas.
We have delivered results in six key areas, including:
- Addressing food insecurity in the wake of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine
- Tackling forced labor in global supply chains
- Continued collaboration with partners on developing solutions to tackle supply chain issues
- Facilitating trade in safe and effective medicines and minimizing drug shortages
- Securing smoother and more efficient movement of essential goods during a pandemic
- Protecting the uninterrupted flow of trade in North America during an emergency
And the details about these achievements are important:
- ADDRESSING FOOD INSECURITY IN THE WAKE OF RUSSIA’S AGRESSION IN UKRAINE: Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has disrupted trade in agricultural commodities and inputs, such as fertilizers, creating increased food insecurity for millions of people worldwide. To help address these issues, the United States and the European Union have agreed to launch a dialogue on promoting diversified trade in agricultural commodities and inputs to counter the harmful impact of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine on global food supply chains. This new bilateral commitment was included in the Trade and Technology Council (TTC) Joint Statement released on May 15. The dialogue will address the issue of over-reliance on certain trading partners and will identify discrete areas of cooperation aimed at strengthening the resilience of global food production through trade in agricultural commodities and inputs, such as grain and fertilizer.
TACKLING FORCED LABOR IN GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS: USTR has been focused on finding comprehensive solutions to addressing forced labor in global supply chains. In October 2021, USTR negotiated the G7 Trade Ministers’ Forced Labor Statement that included significant commitments by the G7 economies to work together to protect individuals from forced labor and mitigate the risks of forced labor in global supply chains. The commitments included promoting guidance on human rights due diligence and responsible recruitment practices, advancing common definitions and guidance on how to collect and share data and evidence of forced labor, and facilitating business compliance with international labor standards throughout global supply chains.
On January 25, 2022, USTR announced the development of the first-ever Trade Strategy to Combat Forced Labor. The development of this strategy includes a thorough, interagency review of USTR’s existing trade policies and tools used to combat forced labor, including forced child labor, to determine areas that may need strengthening and gaps that need to be filled. USTR is using this analysis to establish objectives, priorities, new tools, and key action items to advance the Administration’s goals to combat forced labor. The agency is undertaking an inclusive process that maximizes input from stakeholders, including labor organizations, civil society, survivors, and the private sector.
On May 15, the US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) Joint Statement also included a new bilateral commitment to establish a tripartite Trade and Labor Dialogue, involving trade unions, businesses, and governments, that promotes internationally-recognized labor rights, including the eradication of forced labor and child labor in supply chains.This work will be led by USTR.The United States and EU also agreed to promote responsible business conduct and respect for internationally recognized labor rights, increase the effectiveness of trade and labor engagements, and explore possible joint technical cooperation and funding in support of these efforts.
- CONTINUED COLLABORATION WITH PARTNERS ON DEVELOPING SOLUTIONS TO TACKLE SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES: USTR continues to work closely with trading partners and stakeholders through many bilateral and multilateral trade venues. These forums include the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), Japan Comprehensive Partnership, U.S.-United Kingdom Trade Dialogue, as well as multilateral organizations such as the WTO, Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC), Organization for Economic and Commercial Development (OECD), and the newly launched Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
- FACILITATING TRADE IN SAFE AND EFFECTIVE MEDICINES AND MINIMIZING DRUG SHORTAGES: USTR is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to negotiate Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) with select foreign counterparts that will allow our regulators and the regulators in our partner countries to mutually recognize our respective inspection documents for pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, where our regulators are confident that the facilities produce safe and effective medicines. By reducing duplicative efforts among trusted regulatory authorities, the United States is streamlining the movement of pharmaceutical goods and creating a stronger, more reliable supply chain that minimizes drug shortages.
- SECURING SMOOTHER AND MORE EFFICIENT MOVEMENT OF ESSENTIAL GOODS DURING A PANDEMIC: The United States is actively engaging WTO Members in a number of bodies, including the Trade Facilitation Committee, on how Members can work together to ensure smoother and more efficient movement of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other essential medical goods during the pandemic while building resiliency for future pandemics. The United States, along with other WTO Members in standing committees and in discussions in the run-up to MC12, are stressing the importance of implementing WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) provisions and considering various actions, including sharing experiences and lessons-learned from the pandemic, as part of their implementation efforts under the TFA. Implementation of the TFA provisions by all Members will help to facilitate the manufacturing, supply, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other essential medical goods and services and their inputs. Implementation will also further ensure the predictability, simplicity, and uniformity of customs and other border procedures for all goods by, for example, expediting approvals for perishable goods, reducing documentary requirements, processing documents before goods arrive at the ports, and establishing information portals. This will contribute to more durable and resilient supply chains, not just for essential goods, but for all trade.
- PROTECTING THE UNINTERRUPTED FLOW OF TRADE IN NORTH AMERICA DURING AN EMERGENCY: The USMCA Competitiveness Committee has agreed to establish a trilateral process to ensure North American trade flows between the United States, Mexico and Canada continue in the event of an emergency. Based on stakeholder feedback, the Committee is considering cooperation on identifying priority infrastructure sectors and establishing a communication mechanism with the end goal of ensuring our regional trade flows, which accounted for an estimated $1.4 trillion in trade of goods and services, continue with as little interruption as possible during a designated emergency.
The work of the Supply Chain Task Force is on-going, and adapting to changing world events, including the impact of Russia’s unjust invasion of Ukraine on food and energy supply chains. USTR will continue to work with like-minded partners and our stakeholders to develop durable solutions that strengthen the resiliency of critical supply chains and protect American jobs, manufacturers, farmers, businesses, and families. We look forward to announcing additional achievements and progress in the months ahead.