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Biden backs US tech with ‘Buy American’ requirements

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US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order - 'Ensuring the future is made in all of America by all of America’s workers' - which tightens the requirement in federal government procurement to prioritise goods manufactured in the US.

The executive order – one of many signed by Biden during his first week in office – aims to leverage the vast spending power of federal government to support manufacturing and engineering. With annual spending of approximately $600bn, the US government is the world’s single-largest purchaser of goods and services.

The order will increase transparency to make it harder for agencies to turn to foreign products masked as US-made – including with the creation of a new 'Made in America' post based in the White House – and to reconsider the threshold used to determine whether a product is ‘US made” by considering meaningful metrics such as job creation.

“I don’t buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past. American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War II and it must be part of the engine of American prosperity now,” Biden said, speaking during a press conference ahead of signing the order. “That means we are going to use taxpayers’ money to rebuild America. We’ll buy American products and support American jobs, union jobs.

“We will invest hundreds of billions of dollars in buying American products and materials to modern our infrastructure and our competitive strength will increase in the competitive world,” he said.

Importantly, Biden intends to extend provisions to IT products, which are currently exempt from these rules. This will follow a review. He emphasised the importance of using US-manufactured steel and technology while rebuilding infrastructure to be climate resilient.

Biden has pledged to procure more US products in areas such as clean energy and electric vehicles and to invest in strategically valuable sectors such as artificial intelligence. This is in part a response to China’s own 'Made in China 2025' campaign, which is focused on a transition to high-tech design and manufacturing, with growth in industries including biotechnology, electrical vehicles, semiconductors and aerospace. China overtook the US as the world’s largest manufacturer in 2010.

Biden also took the opportunity to accuse his predecessor of having supported foreign jobs and industries with tens of billions of dollars in public money, such as on engines and vehicles manufactured abroad.

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