US, allies agree to work to improve supply chains

THE United States and 17 allies have agreed to work together to improve and diversify global supply chains to avoid the shortages that plagued the economy during the pandemic, officials said on Wednesday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo co-hosted the Supply Chain Ministerial Forum on Tuesday and Wednesday.

China was not a part of the meeting, and US officials have said they aim to increase "friend-shoring" to move production of key supplies to allied nations.

"The shocks to global supply chains from pandemics, wars and conflicts, extreme climate impacts, and natural disasters have put in stark relief the urgent need to further strengthen supply chains, to work to reduce and end near-term disruptions, and to build long-term resilience," the participants said in a joint statement at the conclusion of the virtual event.

Supply chain snarls that began during the pandemic have been exacerbated by Russia's war in Ukraine and stringent Covid-19 restrictions in China.

Covid-19 lockdowns in China has led to shortages of key components, particularly of microchips and auto parts, that have caused global inflation to skyrocket to record highs.

Forum attendees agreed to collaborate on solutions to short-term issues including transportation and "supply chain disruptions and bottlenecks," as well as long-term challenges "that make our supply chains vulnerable and cause spillover effects for consumers, large and small businesses, workers, and families," the statement said.

Goals include increasing transparency of trade information, diversifying sources, and increasing the security and sustainability of supply chains.

Officials from Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Spain and the United Kingdom participated in the meeting. AFP



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