In February 2021 and pursuant to Executive Order 14017, “America’s Supply Chains,” President Joe Biden directed a review across all federal agencies to address vulnerabilities in the supply chains for critical goods. See Update of February 25, 2021. Subsequent federal agency reviews and a White House report found five key U.S. supply chain vulnerabilities, acknowledged the need to strengthen international trade rules, and recommended steps to strengthen supply chain resilience, including increased international coordination. See Update of June 11, 2021. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report, “Supply Chain Resilience – Agencies Are Taking Steps to Expand Diplomatic Engagement and Coordinate with International Partners,” highlighting additional federal government steps to expand diplomatic engagement and coordination with trade partners to strengthen supply chains.
The report notes, as of October 2022, that “the agencies have initiated over a dozen dialogues, working groups, forums, and other channels to coordinate with allies and partners on supply chain resilience. The agencies have coordinated with allies and partners to develop supply chain principles and plans for action to strengthen supply chain resilience. These efforts aim to address challenges including disruptions from the pandemic and war in Ukraine.” Among the issues covered in the report, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) found that “current U.S. trade agreements generally were not designed to address supply chain disruptions or build resiliency,” but instead have “historically focused on trade liberalization and maximizing economic efficiency.” While trade agreements and trade preference programs “can serve as tools for addressing supply chain resiliency concerns,” the USTR is attempting to identify ways to use free trade agreements to strengthen collaboration and cooperation on supply chain challenges. However, the USTR noted that this may require renegotiating current agreements, negotiating new agreements, or modifying trade preference programs.
The report also notes that the Departments of Commerce and State, as well as the USTR, continue to address data collection challenges that will assist in diplomatic coordination on supply chain resilience. In their FY 2023 budget request, these agencies have requested authorization for additional personnel and increased funding for these efforts.