MCLEAN, US: US President Joe Biden leaves after addressing the Intelligence Community workforce and its leadership while on a tour at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, Virginia, Tuesday. – AFP

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden announced a plan yesterday to strengthen “Buy American” policies, proposing to increase the US-made content in hundreds of billions of dollars of government purchases. The White House said it was proposing legislation to update the 1933 “Buy American Act” to close loopholes and pressure businesses that supply the government to add more US-made inputs into their supply chains. The move comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted weaknesses in global supply chains that have left US markets short of critical products and materials, including semiconductors, building materials and toilet paper.

Biden’s new proposal “would increase US content in the products the federal government buys and support the domestic production of products critical to our national and economic security,” the White House said. The administration is proposing to increase the 55 percent US-content requirement in the Buy American Act for supplies to the federal government to 60 percent in the short term and gradually to 75 percent.

The White House said the move, which applies to $600 billion in annual government spending, would boost small- and medium-sized manufacturers around the country. The new initiative also offers new pricing schemes for government procurement that would favor domestic manufacturers for a slate of products deemed crucial to national security.

“As the pandemic made clear, supply chain disruptions can impact the health, safety and livelihoods of Americans — leaving us without access to critical goods during a crisis,” the White House said in a statement. To promote the initiative Biden will speak Wednesday afternoon at a factory producing Mack trucks, an iconic US brand of heavy transport and industrial vehicles, in Pennsylvania.

Scott Paul, president of the manufacturers’ group Alliance for American Manufacturing, applauded Biden’s proposed legislation. “For too long, the law has been weakened by loopholes, waivers, lax oversight and overly permissive rules that allowed too many foreign goods to be purchased with tax dollars,” he said in a statement. “That meant lost opportunities for American manufacturers — and lost jobs for American workers,” Paul said. – AFP