Government Contracts Executive Order Addresses Supply Chain Threats
Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Executive Order Addresses Supply Chain Threats

By Government Contracts Editorial Staff

Executive Order 13953, Addressing the Threat to the Domestic Supply Chain from Reliance on Critical Minerals from Foreign Adversaries and Supporting the Domestic Mining and Processing Industries, implements the policy goal that a strong United States “cannot be dependent on imports from foreign adversaries for the critical minerals that are increasingly necessary to maintain … economic and military strength.” This order builds on E.O. 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, which required the Secretary of the Interior to identify critical minerals, as specified in section 2(b) of the order, and implement a federal government policy “to reduce the Nation’s vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of critical minerals.” Although the 35 critical minerals identified in E.O. 13817 are necessary for the U.S. military, national infrastructure, and economy, the U.S. imports more than half of its annual consumption of 31 critical minerals and has no domestic production for 14 critical minerals. E.O. 13953 states that U.S. dependence on the People’s Republic of China for multiple critical minerals is “particularly concerning” because the U.S. imports 80 percent of its rare earth elements directly from China.

Extraordinary Threat. The order states the undue reliance on critical minerals from foreign adversaries constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the U.S. The order declares a national emergency to deal with that threat, stating that by “expanding and strengthening domestic mining and processing capacity,” the U.S. “guard[s] against the possibility of supply chain disruptions and future attempts by our adversaries or strategic competitors to harm our economy and military readiness.” In addition, a more robust “domestic mining and processing industry fosters a healthier and faster-growing economy for the [U.S.]” The order requires the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, and the heads of other agencies, as appropriate, to investigate the nation’s undue reliance on critical minerals, in processed or unprocessed form, from foreign adversaries. The order also emphasizes the “policy that relevant agencies should … prioritize the expansion and protection of the domestic supply chain for minerals and the establishment of secure critical minerals supply chains, and should direct agency resources to this purpose.”

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