SECRETARY BLINKEN: Welcome, everyone. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening. Very pleased to have everyone join this ministerial meeting on supply chain resilience. People in virtually all of our countries have experienced the pain caused by supply chain disruptions. We have store owners unable to stock their shelves, people with chronic health conditions, we can’t get lifesaving medicines, factories sending home workers because they can’t get the necessary materials and inputs to keep their lines going. More than ever, I think we’ve all come to an understanding about how supply chains are simply essential to meeting our everyday needs.
They’re also vital to tackling virtually every pressing global challenge that we face. To prevent a climate catastrophe and adapt to the growing effects of climate change, we need resilient supply chains to produce clean energy technologies, from wind turbines to batteries. To end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that we are better prepared for – to respond to future health emergencies, we need resilient supply chains for vaccines and other critical health supplies.
So this gathering today is just our latest joint effort to try to address these challenges while minimizing disruptions, keeping workers on the job, bringing down costs for families. And here are a few of the ways that we’ve been doing that over the last year or so.
Back in October, we set up the Microelectronics Early Alert System to anticipate and reduce disruptions for the supply of semiconductors that are critical to our manufacturing. Here in the United States, that’s helped keep American workers on the job at vehicle assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio, and it’s helped keep factories running in partner economies like Mexico and Canada.
Together with many governments at this ministerial, we launched the Mineral Supply Partnership, which will invest in producing, processing, and recycling the minerals needed to make clean energy technologies like electric vehicles and solar panels.
Back in 2020 when COVID-19 was hitting Americans the hardest, India provided medicine and vital supplies to the United States for our industries under strain. When India was facing a massive surge from the Delta variant the following year, we used those same supply chains to provide medical oxygen, therapeutics, and other aid to save lives.
Supply chains are how the United States has delivered more than 565 million doses of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines free of charge and with no strings attached to countries around the world. And we’re using supply chains to get food, fertilizer, lifesaving aid to people in response to the growing global food security crisis exacerbated by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
As we gather today, there are two main goals, I think, that we’ve agreed that we need to focus on. The first is to identify other immediate steps that we can take to reduce disruptions that are most affecting people’s lives and commit to taking those steps.
The second is to build the long-term foundation that makes us less vulnerable to future shocks, whether they come from natural disasters and pandemics, from wars, or some other crisis.
That is what resilience is all about. Now, we all throw that word around a lot, so let me just take a moment to suggest what it means to us. A resilient supply chain is a transparent one where partners are constantly sharing information in real time to anticipate, to measure, to respond to changes. A resilient supply chain is diversified so that when we can’t get material or service from one source, we can find it somewhere else, and so no one country can weaponize its control over materials or inputs against any other country. That will require investing in research and development, and new manufacturing capacities.
A resilient supply chain is secure, so we’re less vulnerable to cyber attacks by governments or other actors.
A resilient supply chain is sustainable, adhering to labor and environmental standards that we’ve agreed on because it’s consistent with our shared values, because we’ve seen how governments that ignore these benchmarks tend to be less reliable partners, and because in 2022 any supply chain that’s not environmentally sustainable won’t be durable.
So whether we’re addressing near‑ or long‑term challenges, there’s only one way to build supply chains that are resilient in all of these ways, and that’s to do it together, with partners – together with partners in government, including at the regional, the state, the city level, because no one country can cope with inevitable disruptions alone; together with the private sector, because while governments and multilateral institutions shape the rules of the road and can provide incentives, supply chains are ultimately designed, run, powered by businesses and by workers; and not only with industry, but together with all actors in the private sector, including those who have been historically underrepresented – women, minorities, native-owned enterprises, small and medium sized enterprises, labor unions. The dynamism, diversity, the ingenuity of our private sectors and of the open markets where they compete make us nimbler and more efficient than closed systems. We need to take advantage of this asset.
Yesterday, we hosted four sessions with partners from these diverse groups and organizations. And what we learned is going to inform today’s discussion.
So I’m especially looking forward to hearing participants’ views on the challenges we face and what we can do to tackle them together.
With that, let me hand it over to my teammate, my friend, my co-host of this meeting, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. Gina, over to you.
SECRETARY RAIMONDO: Thank you, Tony (audio interruption) more important, and I think there is no one who doesn’t now understand the importance of having resilient supply chains. And in order for that to happen, we have to work across governments and as between the public sector and the private sector.
We all know – we all live it every day – supply chain congestion is challenging us and continuing to stress U.S. imports and exports and the movement of goods here in our country. And as co-chair of our administration’s supply chain disruptions task force, I hear – I know about these issues. Frankly, I hear about these issues nearly every day or certainly every week from U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers. And so it’s something that we really have to work together, as I say, across governments, among allies in order to solve our supply chain challenges. And we are working hard every day in order to alleviate this issue.
And here in the States, we’re also working hard to convince our Congress to quickly pass funding for the CHIPS Act, which would invest $52 billion in domestic semiconductor production. I will say last night here in the U.S., the United States Senate took a critical vote by a wide margin in a bipartisan fashion to move forward on that bill, so we’re feeling quite optimistic that it will soon get to President Biden’s desk. Additionally, President Biden’s proposed budget requests millions of dollars to respond to the current supply chain crisis and the existing demand for supply chain work.
I will say here at the Commerce Department, we currently have over 40 workstreams ongoing related to the supply chain, right. There’s no silver bullet; there’s no quick fix to fix our supply chain challenges. And so we are – and working very closely with Secretary of State and Secretary of Energy – we’re going industry by industry, product by product, and trying to figure out how to unsnarl the supply chain in any way that we can.
We also know – and we’ve become very, very aware – that supply chains are global. And that’s why we need to engage with likeminded partners, such as all of the people on this meeting and call, to work together if we really will – are going to be able to find sustainable, lasting, long-term solutions to solve our mutual supply chain challenges. And the – Tony and I are working very hard with the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, because that’s a way for us to work with our allies in the Indo-Pacific to work together to shore up our supply chains. We are also co-chairing the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, which is off to a fantastic start, and we’re making huge progress in both of these dialogues to make – to ensure that our supply chain is resilient, efficient, and benefits all of our citizens, industry, labor, civil society; makes sure that all of our efforts are inclusive and the benefits are widely shared.
And of course, we know supply chain – supply chains are run by the private sector, fundamentally run by the private sector. So governments alone cannot solve the challenges. We need to and we’re committed to engaging private sector partners, local communities, to together envision new ways of forming public-private partnerships, innovating. And I join Tony in sharing the excitement to hear from each and every one of you today around how we can work together to solve these problems.
So thank you again for joining us, and I’m excited to hear from you.