New Op-ed: How to Hold China Accountable: Build Our Own Stuff
It’s starting to happen.”
That’s what Brad Parscale said around 8 p.m. to the family and inner circle on the 14th floor of Trump Tower on November 8, 2016, as we were watching election returns trickle in from North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Parscale’s words came back to me with the news this week the Trump Administration awarded a $354 million contract to a private company to manufacture generic medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients in Richmond, Virginia.
It’s starting to happen—global supply chains are coming back to America.
The company, Phlow Corporation, will be making drugs used to treat COVID-19. They will be stored in a strategic stockpile of pharmaceutical ingredients to be used in the event of drug shortages or an emergency.
Those drugs, like so many others, are now made overseas, mostly in China and India. China is the world’s main supplier of the active ingredients used in many common drugs from vitamin C to aspirin.
China produces 90 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for essential medicines used in serious coronavirus infections, according to Rosemary Gibson, author of China Rx. Sedatives, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and medicines to raise blood pressure are among the medications.
The administration killed two birds with one stone by awarding the contract to this upstart company.
The first is ending America’s dangerous dependency on Communist China for essential medicines. The second is breaking up the pharmaceutical oligarchy whose single-minded pursuit of profits led us to our foreign drug dependency in the first place.
The trade association of generic drugmakers attacked White House trade and manufacturing czar Peter Navarro when he first advanced a plan for bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the United States.
They clutched their precious global supply chains like pearls, falsely claiming that rearranging those chains would spike drug prices, forcing Americans to eat cat food in order to afford their meds.
In fact, “global supply chains” are the end-product of a global monopoly.
Chinese pharmaceutical companies formed a cartel that sold essential products below-market prices on the global market and drove all U.S., European, and Indian producers out of business. Once the Chinese gained the dominant global market share, prices increased. American generic drug makers are happy to import active ingredients from abroad rather than make them.
“There are not a lot of people wanting to bring back generic medicine manufacturing to the United States that has been lost to India and China over decades,” Dr. Eric Edwards, the chief executive of Phlow Corporation, told the New York Times.
In standing up a competitor to the existing generic drug companies, the White House is following the strategy the federal government used to turn America into the arsenal of democracy that won World War II.
In that earlier global conflict, aluminum was essential to the war effort. But it was controlled by an international cartel led by Alcoa, itself a monopoly. When Alcoa refused to increase production to the level needed to build 50,000 airplanes, the federal government lent millions to an upstart in the aluminum foil business named Richard Reynolds. That gave Reynolds’ company the boost it needed to make more than tin foil and it gave America the planes it needed to win the war.
President Trump was wise to ignore the pharma oligarchs clinging to their global supply chains. He followed his instincts and the wishes of the American people.
The same day Navarro was announcing the historic contract to rebuild a truly American pharmaceutical industry, Bloomberg News released a poll showing, yet again, how hungry Americans are to bring manufacturing back to the United States, whatever the cost.
An overwhelming 86 percent of respondents said the United States relies too heavily on foreign supply chains. In addition, the poll found:
40 percent said they won’t buy products from China.
55 percent don’t think China can be trusted to follow through on its trade-deal commitments signed in January to buy more U.S. products.
66 percent favor raising import restrictions over the pursuit of free-trade deals as a better way to boost the U.S. economy.
78 percent would be willing to pay more for products if the company that made them moved manufacturing out of China.
These findings confirm other surveys. A Harris poll found 86 percent of Americans approve or strongly approve of companies that promise to move their manufacturing out of China and back to the United States. Pew Research Center found more than 7-in-10 Americans don’t trust Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, a record disapproval for the Red dictator.
The globalists over at Bloomberg are shocked to find a supermajority of Americans supports protecting domestic industries. Chad Bown from the free-trade-über-alles Peterson Institute for International Economics tried to explain the polls away by essentially accusing Americans of being racists, xenophobes, xylophones, or something.
“Foreigners are an all too easy political target in normal times,” Bown told Bloomberg. “But once they become unpopular, politics can turn dangerous.”
In reality, Americans know they were sold a bill of goods by smarty-pants “moderates” like Bown. It’s really not that difficult to understand: China took our jobs and all we got was a virus that canceled Easter and killed grandma. Saying “we need to collaborate with China” sounds a lot like, “let’s keep on kissing Xi’s ass.”
Supermajorities of Americans are saying no thanks, here’s what we’re going to do instead: We’ll build our own stuff, keep our jobs, and keep our money. That’s how we’ll hold China accountable.
And it’s starting to happen.
Curtis Ellis is the Senior Policy Director for America First Policies.