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Biden strike force to target ‘unfair’ trade

The US will set up a new “strike force” to target what it calls “unfair trade practices” by competitors like China.

The Biden administration said on Tuesday the new body will look for violations of rules, which it says have damaged global supply chains.

In a statement it said it would “push back on unfair foreign competition that erodes the resilience of US critical supply chains”.

It comes after a review of supplies of products such as computer chips.

President Joe Biden ordered the review in February, asking government agencies to report on the country’s access to essential goods like rare earth materials used in phones and electric vehicle batteries.

Led by the US Trade Representative, the new “strike force” will look for trade rules that have been broken and come up with ways to counter that.

Supply chain disruption

The US, like many other countries, faced difficulties getting medical equipment during the pandemic and faces disruption in a number of areas – such as a computer chip shortage and stalling car production.

Following on from the review, the US Department of Commerce is also considering starting an investigation into the national security impact of neodymium magnet imports, mostly sourced from China, which are used in motors and in defence.

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Many firms have seen production delayed because of a lack of computer chips available.

The shortage has been exacerbated by surging demand for TVs, phones and gaming consoles, which all use semiconductor chips, while consumers were stuck at home.

Bosses of big firms such as IBM and Cisco have estimated disruption could last up to two years.

As part of the review, a number of measures were announced in a bid to counteract reliance on goods from outside the US.

The Energy Department will provide about $17bn (£12bn) in loans for advanced batteries to accelerate the shift towards electric cars and the Agriculture Department will spend more than $4tn to strengthen food supply chains.

The Biden administration said on Tuesday: “These efforts are critical because, as the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have shown, structural weakness in both domestic and international supply chains threaten America’s economic and national security.”

www.bbc.co.uk

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