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'Buy America' Order Would Hit Pandemic Response, Warns US Business Groups

'Buy America' Order Would Hit Pandemic Response, Warns US Business Groups
More than 80 business groups in the United States has warned that shortages of urgently needed medicines and medical equipments to fight coronavirus pandemic in the country could be worsened while also delaying the discovery of a vaccine for the new coronavirus because of the plans of the White House to expand "Buy America" mandates to the medical equipment and pharmaceutical sectors.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and other top US officials were urged by the US Chamber of Commerce and dozens of other business and trade groups of the country to not implement the plans for the order. The trade bodies argued that such steps could cause damaging consequences to the trade relationships for many year in the future.
"Preventing federal agencies from sourcing medical equipment and pharmaceutical ingredients from abroad ... would only exacerbate the supply shortages racking the United States," said a letter from the groups, which was also addressed to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Some movement on the issue us being expected shortly, said White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who has been a a long-time trade hawk and is the one who is drafting the order, in an interview to Fox News late on Wednesday evening.
"The president's gonna get that done soon," Navarro told Fox News' "Hannity" program, without giving an exact date.
This plan of the White House has not been taken well in some countries such as China which has re-stoked the trade war tensions between the two largest economies of the world at a time when there is a greater call by world leaders for implementing a coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic wrecking the world. 
Leaders of the G-20 group of countries – the 20 largest economies of the world, including US  president Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, met on Thursday in an extraordinary video conference meeting to find out a coordinated way to meet the health and the economic challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the world into.
American companies will get long-term incentives to manufacture medical equipment in the United States because of the ‘Buy America’ executive order, deregulation and special incentives for 3D printing and other advanced technologies, Navarro said.
Companies of the US U.S. industry would "do whatever it takes" to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, said the groups, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, in the letter. The coronavirus has so far infected more than 53,000 people in the United States with the death of 730 people.
However the trade and industry bodies also warned that the executive order could result in shortages of drugs and medical products – supply of which are already strained, and could also be a hit to the hopes of an economic recovery because companies in the US need access to international supply chains for production of the goods.
"The United States cannot shut itself off from the rest of the world," the groups wrote. "Turning our backs on trading partners during a crisis could damage our relationships long after this pandemic ends," they wrote.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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