The Biden-Harris Administration and the Future of Supply Chains in the Americas



Atlantic Council | Juan Carlos Baker, Maurice Bellan, Christina Conlin, Kerry Contini, Reagan Demas, Ildefonso Guajardo, Landon Loomis, Jason Marczak, Manuel Padrón-Castillo, Anne Petterd, Shunko Rojas, Lisa Schroeter, Alison J. Stafford Powell, Joyce Smith, Jennifer Trock, Omar Vargas, Carlos Alberto Vela-Treviño

The month of November 2020 marked a turning point for the United States as voters cast their ballots at rates not recently seen in a US election. The historic race saw around 65 percent of the voting population in the United States participating, the highest in more than one hundred years. With three hundred and six Electoral College votes in their favor, former US Vice President Joseph R. Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris will become the next president and vice president of the United States. 

The atmosphere of uncertainty that characterized the 2020 US election was consistent with the rampant uncertainty that has plagued 2020 as a whole. The global COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken the world by storm, has disrupted lives, upended economies, and destabilized supply chains. 

This disruption was profoundly felt in the Western Hemisphere, where suppliers in the Americas were forced to adapt sourcing and inventory strategies as suppliers in Asia and other regions shut down operations, where companies faced shortages and interruptions, and where costs soared as necessary raw materials became harder to source. Even as grocery-store shelves quickly emptied, food and basic necessities became scarce for many, and personal protective equipment (PPE) went on back order, the world stepped up to diversify sourcing and manufacturing locations, setting the stage for the modernization and increased resilience of supply chains in the coming years. 

Supply remains crucial as governments, businesses, and individuals brace for a second wave of shutdowns and prepare to bounce back post-pandemic. A key priority for the next US administration will be working alongside partners and allies in the Western Hemisphere to assure supply-chain resilience is achieved and prioritized. 

President-Elect Joe Biden has pledged to build broad-based supply-chain resilience and to work collaboratively with the private sector to improve productivity and avoid unnecessary costs and bureaucracy.1 Snap polls of businesses show they are counting on the next US administration to deliver on this promise.2 As the inauguration of the forty-sixth president of the United States approaches, the question becomes: how can cooperation across the Americas, under a Biden administration, impact the future of supply chains in the Americas?