Nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and according to data from the FDA, about 90 percent of factories producing pharmaceuticals intended for American consumption are located outside of the United States.
The coronavirus has revealed such serious flaws with our current trade practices that have left us extremely reliant on the hostile, foreign nation of China.
After we grapple with the outbreak, and most Americans return to normal, leadership in Congress and the White House need to come up with a plan to ensure we are less dependent on China in the future.
We must return the supply chains of essential products – including medicine and medical supplies – back to the United States. Right now a majority of citizens’ lives are effectively held at the mercy of a foreign country.
If they went to war, imposed sanctions, or had a widespread disease that affects production, we’d be at the bottom of their list of priorities.
It’s understandable why countries like China attracted companies to offshore their manufacturing plants. They have very few regulations, do not enforce intellectual property laws, and workers can be paid cheaply.
However, the profits of any industry or a single company should not come before the vital interests of the United States.
The U.S. offers advantages few other countries in the world offer; we are remarkably stable and create the best quality goods in the world across a plethora of industries.
So how does the U.S. bring back manufacturing and change the supply chain?
First, President Trump was right to raise the concern of bringing back production to the U.S. during the 2016 election. Now that the country and Republicans in Congress have similar interests, there are methods that the government can take to help bring back our manufacturing.
To stimulate our manufacturing economy, first and foremost, Congress should ban granting government contracts to companies that manufacture vital supplies overseas.
Our legislators should follow up by placing caps on how much of anyone industry, especially in medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, could be purchased from any one country.
This is especially true of the 400 essential medicines that President Trump outlined in his recent executive order. That way, China would not be allowed to monopolize the industry, and a specific portion of the jobs could come back to the US.
To further incentivize private industry, Congress must act to create an infrastructure program that would bring jobs back to areas that were industrial powerhouses left just several decades ago.
A study by The Alliance for American Manufacturing found that by investing in our infrastructure, over 150,000 factory jobs could return to the Rust Belt states.
Furthermore, we should deregulate our natural resources, so the U.S. no longer has to rely on China’s monopoly. This will help further break up our dependency on China when it comes to a myriad of industries, including computers, technology, and cell phones.
We cannot leave the viability of America’s economy and healthcare up to the whims, values, and crises of other nations across the globe who do not have our best interests.
We may escape economic tragedy this time, but we should be prepared for a similar disruptive event and not allow China or any other nation to determine our fate.