President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Thursday requiring the federal government to purchase essential medical drugs and equipment made in the United States.
“Thou shalt buy American at the agencies,” Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro summarized on a call with reporters on Thursday, describing the executive order as “pure Trump.”
The president will sign the executive order during a trip to Ohio, where he will highlight his effort to restore manufacturing and jobs in the United States.
The latest Buy American Executive Order requires government agencies, particularly the Defense Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to purchase essential pharmaceuticals and medical equipment made in the United States.
“This is I think one of the most comprehensive and effective executive orders that I’ve seen and it’s really going to get the mission done,” Navarro said, noting he had spent many weeks working on the details. “I couldn’t be happier that the president is signing this today.”
The order will also require the Federal Drug Administration to streamline regulations and approvals for developing and manufacturing drugs and the Environmental Protection Agency to streamline regulations to promote the rapid construction of advanced manufacturing facilities.
“We’re hitting the ground running,” Navarro said, noting the order would increase the production of drug manufacturers in all of its stages.
Navarro said the coronavirus pandemic made it abundantly clear of the vulnerabilities that America had when it came to medicine and equipment.
“If we’ve learned anything from the China virus pandemic it is simply that we are dangerously over-dependent on foreign nations for our essential medicines, for medical supplies like masks, gloves, goggles and the like and medical equipment,” Navarro said.
Foreign countries like China and India, Navarro explained, had an unfair economic advantage with the United States, allowing cheap “sweatshop” labor, and creating pollution and tax havens to move pharmaceutical production offshore.
“The critical element here which is part of the broader Trump strategy is to onshore our production,” he said and added, “It establishes a base level of demand to attract a level of investment sufficient to provide for the needs we have for these things in times of trouble.”