Trump Admin Moves To Cut Off US Reliance On China For Medicine

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
Font Size:

President Donald Trump has granted a $765 million loan to the Kodak photography company to begin manufacturing pharmaceutical ingredients, the Trump administration announced Tuesday.

White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro told reporters during a Tuesday telephone briefing that the initiative is part of Trump’s joint public- and private-sector approach to responding to coronavirus. Kodak employs many of the world’s top chemists to create its camera film and its manufacturing facilities are well-suited to creating pharmaceutical ingredients, according to the White House.

Kodak will not be manufacturing medicines specific to coronavirus, however. Officials said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the way the U.S. medical supply chain relies on other countries for fundamental medical materials.

US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping at the end of a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017. Donald Trump urged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to work "hard" and act fast to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, during their meeting in Beijing Thursday, warning that "time is quickly running out". / AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping at the end of a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s unacceptable going forward that American pharmaceuticals – the generic form of pharmaceuticals – are made in China and outside of the United States,” Adam Boehler, the head of the Development Finance Corp., told reporters on the call.

Officials say the program will allow Kodak to eventually produce up to 25% of the pharmaceutical ingredients America uses. Today, 90% of America’s pharmaceuticals are produced outside of the U.S., officials on the call said. (RELATED: Trump Says Country With Most Coronavirus Deaths ‘Has To Be China’)

Trump signed an executive order in April aimed at ending America’s reliance on China in its medical supply chain which would have stop federal agencies from purchasing medical equipment from foreign countries.

“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,” Navarro told New York Times in March. “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 loan is apparently expected to created hundreds of jobs in Kodak’s facilities in Rochester, New York, as well as many more indirect job creations across the industry.