On her first visit to Asia, United States Vice President Kamala Harris discussed supply shortages of essential items with company executives in Singapore on Tuesday. The supply side disruptions has caused concern for the Biden administration and cased unwanted inflation especially in the case of raw materials.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, serious challenges in obtaining medical equipment were faced by the United States while the country now is plagued by severe shortage and delays in a number of areas which includes in semiconductor chips, which has affected manufacturing of cars and other products in the country.
The aim of the Biden administration to increase domestic production of such products has been hampered by the supply crunch on more than one occasion.
“Ultimately we need to think of it in the context of a national priority around security… a large part of the emphasis for me and then the discussion was about what it means in terms of the needs of families but also the needs of workers,” Harris said.
Executives from companies including BlackRock Inc, GlobalFoundries Inc, 3M Co, United Parcel Service, Procter & Gamble and Temasek Holdings Pte, Singapore’s state-owned investment company, participated in a roundtable with Harris.
There is however no clarity on the specific commitments or partnerships that Harris was able to strike with the companies on Tuesday. An initiative that includes starting a US-Singapore dialogue on building supply chains was announced by her on Monday.
Southeast Asia has a key role to play in “securing a semiconductor and overall electronics supply chain has become a national priority”, said Bain & Co’s U.S. head of technology, Anne Hoecker.
In February this year, a multi-agency review of the supply chains which are critical for the country was ordered by the US President Joe Biden. He ordered executive agencies to prepared reports within 100 days detailing the risks faced by the US in accessing a range of critical goods such as those that are used in pharmaceuticals as well as rare earth minerals. The country is critically dependent on overseas sources for supply of raw materials in a number of industries.
Till now, the Biden administration has not been able to provide any significant new solutions for an immediate easing of the chip supply shortages.
(Adapted from Bloomberg.com)