New report calls into question U.S. dependence on foreign suppliers
This past July a report was filed by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security Robert B. Stephan in which they called into question the United States’s excessive dependence on foreign suppliers, especially in the wake of a catastrophic event. Essentially, this report stated that the U.S. runs the risk of being dangerously unprepared for serious emergencies due to the off-shoring of critical manufacturing sectors and a reliance on foreign suppliers for products that are needed during a time of crisis.
This report was released by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and it states that the U.S. desperately needs to revitalize its manufacturing capacity to reduce vulnerability. What vulnerability, you may ask? The report claims that with an increase in natural and man-made disasters, along with an increase in cyber-attacks and pandemics, the U.S. cannot afford to rely on foreign partners for the majority of critical supplies. “Relying on a potentially hostile trading partner in a time of need puts our national security at risk,” the report states. Does it really though? Are we at risk simply by allowing the bulk of our manufactured supplies to come from other parts of the world?
This is the question we pose to you. Certainly, we understand that the world is full of hostile intentions and hidden motives, but does something as simple as where our supplies come from really pose a potential threat to our national security? If so, how can we combat this? The argument can be made that in times of catastrophe we are certainly much more vulnerable if we have to rely on outside suppliers to give U.S. citizens vital supplies.
Does the solution simply involve a revitalization of American manufacturing? Also, how does this effect larger producers like Whirlpool and Electrolux, considering the recent Department of Commerce decision regarding “dumping?” Will we see an increased separation in business traffic between these two major producers of appliances?
Our reliance on foreign suppliers is a fact, not an opinion. We do rely on foreign suppliers for everything ranging from steel, cement, batteries, and critical high-technology components to every day medical supplies like antibiotics and penicillin. The potential result could be that the U.S. will not have the access it needs to everyday supplies and therefore will experience delayed shipping along with poorer quality of some imported products. But fact ends and opinion begins in deciding whether it is an issue worthy of reaching all of our concerns. Has the time finally come for American manufacturing to take a stand?