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Video: Trump says ‘We should never rely on a foreign country’ during crisis; calls for US independence

President Donald J. Trump participates in a virtual Fox News Town Hall Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
March 25, 2020

At a Tuesday press briefing, President Donald Trump said it’s critical for the U.S. to have independent pharmaceutical manufacturing, a strong U.S. energy supply, and effective border control to limit U.S. dependency on foreign nations while combatting coronavirus.

Trump said his administration had “learned a lot” from the current coronavirus outbreak, in the context of the U.S.’s reliance on other countries for key supplies during the health emergency.

“We should never be reliant on a foreign country for the means of our own survival,” Trump said. “I think we’ve learned a lot. This crisis has underscored just how critical it is to have strong borders and a robust manufacturing sector.”

Trump went on, emphasizing the need for the U.S. to regain control of its medical supplies.

“Our goal for the future must be to have American medicine for American patients, American supplies for American hospitals, and American equipment for our great American heroes,” Trump said. “Now both parties must unite to ensure America is truly an independent nation in every sense of the word.”

The U.S. reliance on China for pharmaceutical supplies has drawn particular concern during the coronavirus outbreak. Chinese pharmaceutical companies manufacture more than 90 percent of U.S. antibiotics, vitamin C, ibuprofen and hydrocortisone, the New York Times reported on March 11. Chinese companies also produce around 70 percent of U.S. acetaminophen, and between 40 and 45 percent of heparin.

“China has managed to dominate all aspects of the supply chain using the same unfair trade practices that it has used to dominate other sectors — cheap sweatshop labor, lax environmental regulations and massive government subsidies,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in an interview with New York Times. “As President Trump has said, what we need to do is bring those jobs home so that we can protect the public health and the economic and national security of the country.”

The Trump administration has worked with private U.S. companies to build medical supplies during the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act which gives his administration powers to direct the production activities of private companies, instructing them to procure needed equipment. Though Trump has invoked the defense production measure, he has not yet used it and has instead relied on companies that have already turned their production efforts towards items like masks, personal protective equipment and ventilators.

Other Trump administration efforts during the coronavirus outbreak have included the closing of borders and travel from citizens of other countries