Strengthening supply chains critical to businesses, markets: Kamala Harris

Lee U-Wen
Published Tue, Aug 24, 2021 · 05:50 AM


NOT only has the coronavirus pandemic left a "profound impact" on economies, families and workers, it has also exposed the vulnerability of the world's supply chains, said US Vice-President Kamala Harris on Monday.

The 56-year-old, who is in Singapore for a three-day official visit, recalled the early days of the pandemic last year when Americans struggled to procure enough face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment, largely due to the shortage of basic goods around the world.

"Supply chains, without any question, are critical to ensuring that businesses can source the materials they need, get products to market, and enable people to buy these products," she said at a press conference alongside Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana.

Ms Harris added that a shortage of semiconductor chips, which power everything from smartphones to laptops and cars, would affect the production of these items.

"If we are not producing enough semiconductors as a world, our automobile factories in the United States will be impacted. It will then impact families and consumers," she said. 

"Ask anybody who’s thinking about trying to buy a new or used car, and it is more difficult than it has been in a long time because supply chain issues impact production lines and impact goods getting to market."

Ms Harris stressed that working together with the US’ partners such as Singapore on strengthening supply chains is critical to getting goods to people and keeping Americans employed.

On Monday, Singapore and the US agreed to convene a high-level dialogue on supply chains, which will bring government and industry leaders together to discuss ways to strengthen supply chain resiliency in the region.

And on Tuesday, in one of her final engagements here before she departs for Vietnam, Ms Harris will participate in a roundtable with the local business community together with Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong. 

"I will be meeting with key business leaders in Singapore to discuss what more we can do together in this region of the world, with private and public sectors, including our own in the United States, to shore up supply lines and supply chains," said Ms Harris.

As part of her official visit, Ms Harris made a courtesy call on President Halimah Yacob at the Istana, where the two leaders affirmed the "strong and broad-based" relationship between their countries.

A statement from Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said that they welcomed the expansion of bilateral cooperation to address pressing global challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. They also discussed the close educational and people-to-people ties between Singapore and the US.

And in a trademark display of Singapore's well-known "orchid diplomacy", Ms Harris was presented with a spray of purplish pink orchids named in her honour.

READ MORE: Singapore-US economic cooperation 'dynamic and flourishing': PM Lee


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