After decades of looking away as America’s supply chains migrated overseas, policymakers are finally facing the reality that dependence on foreign producers has weakened America’s resilience, security, and economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a harsh spotlight on this failure, leaving the nation unacceptably exposed, our capacity depleted, and our essential workers turning to China for equipment. “This pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of keeping vital supply chains at home,” President Donald Trump explained at an April press briefing. “We cannot outsource our independence. We cannot be reliant on foreign nations.”
But the effects of offshoring extend well beyond medical shortages during a public health crisis. When factories leave our shores, not only the jobs but also the suppliers, the customers, the expertise, and the innovation go with them. When productivity growth and innovation are needed, they are nowhere to be found. When we lose ground to rival nations, we lack the capacities required to regain the lead.