At Rome summit, Biden seeks fixes for supply chain kinks

US/World

President Joe Biden and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, not shown, talk to reporters about pausing the trade war over steel and aluminum tariffs during the G20 leaders summit, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Rome. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

ROME (AP) — President Joe Biden is convening world leaders at the Group of 20 summit on Sunday to talk about ways to relieve the supply chain bottlenecks hampering the global economy as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

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Despite devoting a combined $15 trillion to combat the fallout from COVID-19, many of the world’s largest economies are slogging through mass shortages as ships are waiting to dock, the prices of shipping containers climb, not enough trucks exist to haul goods from ports, and virus outbreaks halt factory production.

Supply chain issues have emerged as a point of economic and political pain for Biden, as the delays have contributed to inflation and potentially put a damper on holiday shopping. Republican lawmakers have cited the threat of inflation and supply chain challenges in critiquing Biden’s economic leadership.

In Sunday’s meeting, the president plans to discuss how each country can identify and resolve bottlenecks, said a senior administration official who requested anonymity to discuss the plans. The goal is to help relieve pressures and boost growth.

There is also the broader goal of greater coordination among countries so that supply chains are more resilient. This means increased transparency on shipping issues, so that possible problems can be identified and addressed. After the pandemic shut down factories, Biden plans to discuss how countries can identify strategies to ensure the production of essential goods such as computer chips are not taken offline for an extended period of time.

The president planned to make announcements on U.S. plans to stockpile critical minerals and metals, as well as detail which U.S. resources will be available to end blockages at key ports around the world, the senior administration official said.

Biden also met Sunday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and appeared with Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, to discuss an agreement between the U.S. and EU to settle a rift over Trump-era tariffs on steel and aluminum. The president also met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore and they talked about a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, according to the White House.

The president will also hold a formal news conference, though his domestic agenda might generate as much attention as his foreign policy efforts. House Democrats hope to vote Tuesday on Biden’s $1.75 trillion spending plan for families, health care, and the environment as well as on his $1 trillion infrastructure plan that has already cleared the Senate.

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