A new report says American is too dependent on non-US suppliers. If there were to be a catastrophic event or serious emergency — or war — our country could not respond quickly enough, because of the offshoring of critical manufacturing sectors and a reliance on foreign suppliers.
The Report, Preparing For 21st Century Risks: Revitalizing American Manufacturing to Protect, Respond and Recover was co-authored by Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Robert B. Stephan, a former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection. It is is the first comprehensive analysis of America’s growing reliance on global suppliers, and its effect on our national preparedness and security.
From Washington Post, Reliance on imports leaves U.S. vulnerable to disasters, report says,
The report, which Ridge shared with homeland security officials Tuesday morning, warns that the offshoring of U.S. factories means that rebounding from a catastrophe will be more difficult because so many critical supplies would have to come from overseas.
We are a country at risk because we’ve ignored the gradual erosion of our manufacturing basis,” he said in an interview. “We’ve ignored the need to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.”
Citing the aftermath of disasters such at Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the report adds to the long-running debate over whether the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing has harmed the nation.
“At a time when the frequency of large-scale disasters seems to be increasing, the U.S. seems to be at an all-time low in terms of being able to supply our own critical needs,” said Scott Paul, director of the Alliance for Manufacturing, which sponsored the report by Ridge and Robert B. Stephan, who was an assistant secretary of homeland security from 2005 to 2008.
Paul said, for example, that half of the world’s steel comes from China.
The report says that our increasing reliance on foreign suppliers for steel, cement, batteries, and critical high-technology components and even every day medical supplies such as antibiotics and penicillin results in risks to our preparedness and security. These risks include insufficuent access to or delays getting needed materials and products. Right now, no U.S. plant produces key ingredients for antibiotics, leaving us more vulnerable to pandemics and possible bioterrorism attacks.
From the press release, New Report: U.S. Too Dependent on Foreign Suppliers in Crises:
The report recommends taking a two-track approach to reduce vulnerabilities and to build the capacity to respond and recover quickly and efficiently in the aftermath of a catastrophic disaster. Some recommendations include:
• Develop a plan to make the restoration of a strong American manufacturing sector a key component of both national and economic security strategies.
• Reinvest in America’s infrastructure, using U.S.-made materials.
• Incentivize the revitalization of American manufacturing, including the use of domestic-content preferences that maximize the power of federal procurement funds.
• Enforce trade laws to ensure a level playing field for U.S manufacturers and their workers facing unfair competition.
• Invest in the American workforce to ensure we have the trained workers needed to rebuild our infrastructure and work in a larger, more modern manufacturing sector.