Will Navarro's 'Buy American' goal cost more precious lives in US?

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/6 21:06:14

Peter Navarro Photo: IC

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said US President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order requiring federal agencies to purchase US-made medical products, according to media reports. The novel coronavirus has already caused more than 70,000 fatalities in the US, and if the proposed order worsen shortages of medical equipment and causes more deaths, will Navarro be responsible?

The US now faces acute and perilous shortages of personal protection equipment (PPE) supplies. It is so ridiculous to see Navarro - who has been put in charge of coordinating the American production of medical supplies - stubbornly busy identifying the national origins of PPE supplies in the US. 

For patients, it doesn't matter who produces those medical products. What they care about is whether or not they can get enough affordable medical supplies. At the moment, it would be unwise to engage in protectionism and encourage unfair competition among domestic and overseas firms, which will surely disturb medical supply imports in the short run.

In March, more than 80 business groups warned that such an order could worsen shortages of medical supplies and may prolong discovery of a vaccine for the coronavirus, according to Reuters. Obviously Navarro doesn't want to listen to the opinions of those business groups. 

Navarro seems only keen to avoid letting the epidemic go to waste. The novel coronavirus outbreak may be used as an opportunity to promote the "Buy American" campaign and bring manufacturing plants back to the US.

For many countries, the top priority now remains to contain the spread of coronavirus. However, for some American politicians, economic interests may be more important than saving precious lives. 

There is strong logic behind the proposed order: the "Buy American" campaign can help boost the US economy amid the coronavirus outbreak and help President Trump win reelection in November.

It is understandable that the US wants to reduce dependence on China for essential PPE supplies, but that is not an easy thing to do. While Washington will likely step up efforts to revitalize American industries, it will be almost impossible for the country to restore its glory as a primary industrial powerhouse, due to factors such as its incomplete industrial chain and high-cost labor. These factors would certainly drive up product costs as well as the prices of medical supplies.

If American politicians really think they can bring manufacturing back to the US, the process will only begin after it can get the epidemic under control. Now, a key priority for the Trump administration is strengthening international cooperation to ensure the supply of affordable medical supplies and develop effective vaccines at the earliest date.  

China has reiterated that it is willing to cooperate with the US to combat the coronavirus. Hopefully, protectionism won't hinder the process.

Posted in: GT VOICE

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