It’s the supply chain … stupid!

By Michele Nash-Hoff

Ever since the COVID pandemic started three years ago, we have suffered from disruptions in supply chains for many products used in our daily lives as well as products and components needed for our consumer products, industrial, and defense industries.  Why?  Because we stopped making things in the USA. We outsourced everything from household goods to high tech products, as well as pharmaceuticals and medical devices. First, it was to friendly countries like the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan, and then it became predominantly China after they entered the World Trade Organization in 2001.

The shortages of semiconductors, has made news headlines for the past two years. Semiconductors are used in everything from consumer products such as cell phones, computers, and TVs as well autos, trucks, airplanes, boats, ships, drones, and space vehicles.  There is hardly any product that doesn’t have a semiconductor in it these days, even refrigerators and washing machines. Many other electronic and electro-mechanical components are also no longer made in the USA.

Our domestic innovation capacity is contingent on a robust and diversified industrial base. Our loss of manufacturing capabilities has led to a loss in innovation capacity. When manufacturing heads offshore, innovation follows. We currently lack the ecosystem of innovation, skills, and production facilities to have the secure and resilient supply chains required for economic security. As a result, we are no longer self-sufficient in producing the products we depend on for our modern way of life.    

Even worse, we are no longer self-sufficient in producing the goods and systems needed to defend our country.  Our national security and freedom as an independent country is at risk. This fact was confirmed in the article “From rockets to shells, Pentagon struggles to feed war machine,” from the March 25th issue of the New York Times which stated, “The United States lacks the capacity to produce the arms that the nation and its allies need at a time of heightened superpower tensions…Industry consolidation, depleted manufacturing lines and supply chain issues have combined to constrain the production of basic ammunition like artillery shells while also prompting concern about building adequate reserves of more sophisticated weapons including missiles, air defense systems and counter-artillery radar…illustrated by the shortage of solid rocket motors needed to power a broad range of precision missile systems, such as the ship-launched SM-6 missiles made by Raytheon…Other shortages slowing production include simple items such as ball bearings, a key component of certain missile guidance systems, and steel castings, used in making engines.”

There are two main ways that government can help rebuild the domestic manufacturing base:  penalize offshoring to other countries and incentivize American manufacturers to make is here or reshore their manufacturing to the USA.  The Biden Administration and Congress have reacted to this supply chain crisis within the last year by passing the following legislation:

CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 to “boost American semiconductor research, development, and production, ensuring U.S. leadership in the technology that forms the foundation of everything from automobiles to household appliances to defense systems.”

Amendment to The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Buy American Act – “This rule increases the domestic content threshold initially from 55 percent to 60 percent, then to 65 percent in calendar year 2024 and to 75 percent in calendar year 2029.”

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act – This Act changes U.S. policy to establish “a rebuttable presumption that the importation of any goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.” Previous law required companies to take reasonable care to avoid products produced with forced labor. This Act requires companies to prove that products from

Xinjiang province were not produced with forced labor.

While these new laws and amendments to previous laws will help ease future supply chain disruptions, the real solution to the supply chain crisis is to change the financial calculations to enable making as much as possible in the United States. The Reshoring Initiative has been working towards this goal since its founding in 2010 by promoting the use of the Total Cost of Ownership Estimator® developed by Harry Moser

According to the Reshoring Initiative 2022 Data Report, “Reshoring plus FDI have followed a strong upward trend for 13 years. The underlying trend is driven by the recognition that, in many cases, the total cost of offshoring exceeds that of sourcing domestically. There have been peaks and valleys in the trend. 2017 was driven by the 2017 tax and regulatory cuts. 2018 and 2019 declined due to the trade war. The trend resurged from 2020 to 2022 driven by companies recognizing their vulnerability to supply chain disruptions and, most recently, to geopolitical events.”

The report states, “Jobs announced in 2022 were a record breaking 364 ,000 up from 238 ,000 in 2021. The total number of jobs announced since 2010 is now nearly 1.6 million…we expect 2023 and 2024 to remain strong, continuing at approximately 350,000 job announcements per year. If the current trajectory continues, the U.S. will reduce the trade deficit, add jobs, and become safer, more self-reliant and resilient.”

We need continue to rebuild our domestic manufacturing industrial base if we are going to achieve the goals of Industry Reimagined 2030 to have 50,000 more world-class domestic American manufacturers and a $1 trillion GDP by 2030.