Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Biden administration moves to bottlenecks in supply chain

WASHINGTON – The Biden government on Tuesday plans to issue a series of actions and recommendations aimed at addressing supply chain disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic and reducing other countries’ dependence on key products through domestic production capacity to increase.

In a call Monday night outlining the plan to reporters, White House officials said the government had created a task force that would address the “short-term bottlenecks” in construction, transportation, semiconductor production and agriculture.

Officials also outlined steps to address an executive order by President Biden that requires a review of critical supply chains in four U.S.-dependent product areas: semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, pharmaceuticals and their active ingredients. , and critical minerals and strategic materials, such as scarce earth.

“It’s about ensuring that the United States can meet every challenge we face in the new era,” he said. Biden said in February when he signed the order.

The investigation took place government-wide, officials said: cabinet members were ordered to submit reports to the White House within 100 days. The move was intended to address supply-side resilience concerns and long-term competition with China.

The Department of Health and Human Services, for example, will use $ 60 million from the $ 1.9 billion coronavirus relief bill to develop technologies to increase local production of active ingredients in key pharmaceutical products. The Department of the Interior will work to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced in the United States. And various agencies will work to create supply chains for new technologies that will reduce dependence on key material imports.

The Biden government has also indicated that it is prepared to use trade policies to boost household supplies of key minerals and components. As part of the effort, the office of the United States Trade Representative said it would set up a so-called strike force that could propose actions against overseas companies that are seen as unfair trade practices.

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The Department of Commerce will evaluate whether to investigate the worldwide trade in neodymium magnets in terms of section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act. The Trump administration applied the law to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, after concluding that domestic production of those materials was essential. for national security.

As part of his plans to address climate change, Mr. Pray that Americans will drive millions of new electric vehicles and get more energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. But experts have long pointed out that the shift to cleaner energy requires enormous supplies of critical minerals, many of which are currently being manufactured and processed abroad.

Most of the world’s lithium, a key ingredient in electric vehicle batteries, is mined in Australia, China, Chile and Argentina. China dominates the global production of rare earth minerals such as neodymium, which is used to make magnets in wind turbines. It has also largely hampered the lithium-ion battery market, with 77 percent of the world’s ability to manufacture battery cells and 80 percent of the refinement of raw materials. according to BloombergNEF, an energy research group.

The United States lags far behind other countries in producing very clean energy technologies, leaving it heavily dependent on imports.

The Biden government promised to bring back more of the manufacturing and mining, but progress was slow. In the United States, companies are rushing to unlock lithium supplies in states like Nevada and North Dakota, though these efforts are being resisted due to their environmental effects. The country also has only one mineral-producing mine, in Mountain Pass, California.

As part of its announcement Tuesday, Biden’s government said it would work to identify new local sites where such critical minerals could be mined with environmental measures, and asked Congress to increase funding for a U.S. Geological Survey mapping program. .

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The Department of Energy has announced that it will offer loans to companies that can sustainably refine, process and recycle scarce earth and other materials used in electric vehicles. The agency will also announce on Tuesday a plan to develop a local supply chain for lithium-ion batteries.

The Department of Energy has $ 17.7 billion in power to issue loans Loan program for the manufacture of advanced technology vehicles, which Congress established in 2007 and was used in 2010 to support the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla in its early days. In its announcement, the agency said it was seeking to offer loans to manufacturers of advanced battery technology that have established factories in the United States. It also announced a new policy in which future funding for new clean energy technologies will require recipients to ‘substantially manufacture those products in the United States’.

Semiconductors – an important component in automobiles and electronic devices – were also an important area of ​​research for officials, although they did not describe the immediate plans to increase production. A global shortage of semiconductors has forced several U.S. auto plants to halt or reduce production, forcing the administration to call on allies like Taiwan for emergency supplies. Instead, the 100-day review report said Congress should support a $ 50 billion investment in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research.

The findings are in part a push for the president’s $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan, which could fund some of the research and job training to get American workers on track with the production of advanced technologies such as semiconductors.

The attempt comes because the Senate is ready to pass a huge industrial policy bill to counter the growing influence of China, a rare dual development, as lawmakers suddenly make a huge investment in semiconductor manufacturing, artificial intelligence research, embraces robotics, quantum computing and a range of other technologies. .

Nation World News Desk
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