Friday, May 22, 2020

Covid Shows Flaws In Our Trade Policy

WTO sees "ugly" trade plunge worse than in financial crisisThe advent of the horrific Covid nightmare clearly illustrates major flaws in our dependence on foreign nations for critical needs in our society that relate to our health and very person survival.  There are clearly innumerable products that need to be available and made domestically to assure immediate supply in order to both save and preserve life.  Certainly these include products used in healthcare such as  life saving equipment, medications and tools/materials used by hospitals and medical care givers, likewise, products and foods vital to maintaining health and life.  This list likely includes all kinds of products used in industrial accidents and natural disaster that cannot wait for overseas production or shipment. 

I'm not nearly smart or informed enough to provide a comprehensive list of these; such a list needs to be created by a national commission staffed with people from numerous professional fields and disciplines.  I do not need to recount the life saving items in short supply at the advent and still today through the course of this awful pandemic. They are obvious.

We do have by law certain items maintained in strategic national reserves such as petroleum related products, certain critical metal products such as uranium, food products such as wheat, rice and corn, weapons and armaments related to national defense as well as medical supplies and pharmaceutical products.

But our stockpile list needs to be modified to include maintaining ongoing domestic production of items absolutely necessary to address events such as national disasters and pandemics to assure rapid availability of production to address needs during crises and replenishment of a revamped list of stockpile inventories.

We might even take a page out of the Russian book and seriously look at their policies of stockpiling vital food items in the event of famine crises we might never anticipate. 

This would mean modifying our trade policies requiring companies undertaking offshore production of goods vital to preservation of life in the USA to simultaneously produce a given portion of those foods in domestic location as a condition of their license to operate in the USA. 

Clearly we do not need to face dependence on vital life preserving products from nations either unable to supply those goods or hostile to our need for them in a crisis environment.

Let's make rethinking both our trade and stockpile a top priority for the next Administration.  And let us build in safeguards on maintaining well thought out stockpile minimums to avoid the whims of partisan
budget hawks as we experienced with Tea Party Republicans during President Obama's administration which is now causing massive loss of life and jeopardized health with their failure to heed stockpile replenishment requests from the Obama administration and incompetence from the current catastrophe called the Trump administration.