COVID-19 took the world by storm as it crippled and shut down areas all over the globe, including China, Italy and Spain. Although these nations had robust economies, they were not prepared to handle the economic or medical ramifications of the pandemic. Amid this disaster, the U.S. is pushing to diversify its medical supply chain in the hopes of creating a more secure network for the nation and the world at large. Here are the top 3 things you should know about U.S. foreign policy regarding supply chain diversification.
Current US Foreign Policy
Currently, officials in Washington D.C. are working to extend a foreign policy that promotes economic growth in manufacturing areas around the world. Doing so will allow multiple areas around the globe to manufacture the same products. This will help secure medical supply chains globally and drive costs down as it introduces competition to markets. Senior Fellow Prashant Yadav voiced his support of supply chain diversification before Congress. Specifically, Yadav noted that these actions will also open new markets and strengthen relations between countries.
Why Supply Chain Diversification Is So Important
As COVID-19 swept across the world, it shut down many areas and halted the production of several products. The biggest issue was that many areas that faced shutdowns were the sole manufacturing areas of life-saving supplies. Northern Italy produced the cotton swabs that are used for the COVID-19 nasal tests. Countries like Cambodia and China were the world’s largest producers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as masks and shields. The pandemic effectively shut down these areas as outbreaks began — which meant that the accessibility of these products plummeted and prices rose. Not only does this leave the general population at risk but also, those who live below the poverty line. These people face incredible barriers that only increase due to the situation.
Specific Policies Currently Implemented
Just after the pandemic reached the U.S., the government proposed and implemented the SAFER plan. Part of this plan includes addressing certain healthcare needs. In this way, the U.S. is making an effort to ensure that all medical facilities have access to the supplies that they need. However, the U.S. does not have unlimited stockpiles of all medical supplies. As a result, the U.S. government is obligated to ensure the stability and accessibility of its medical supply chains.
Under the SAFER plan, the U.S. agreed to send 200 ventilators to India with the understanding that India would supply the U.S. with different medications. This will not only provide mutual medical benefits to both countries but it will also strengthen ties between the U.S. and India. In this same vein, the SAFER plan helps to promote economic growth within India and to lessen the world’s reliance on China as the major producer of medical supplies.
While the U.S. is working to ensure domestic security, it is important to note that this will invariably help people across the globe as well. As the nation with one of the largest economies, the U.S. has a lot of clout in the global market. This means that as the U.S. fights for more security in the manufacturing of PPE, cotton swabs and COVID-19 treatments — accessibility for all nations will increase. This positive outcome — a result of more areas beginning to produce products to fulfill trade agreements with the U.S.
– Allison Moss