Aug. 6 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Thursday said he signed an executive order designed to lure more medical manufacturing to the United States.
The move would require the U.S. government to buy what he described as "essential" drugs from U.S. companies, not overseas, where they might be cheaper.
He announced the order during an appearance at the Whirlpool Corporation Manufacturing Plant in Clyde, Ohio.
"We cannot rely on China and other nations across the globe that could one day deny us products," Trump said after touring the plant. "As we've seen in this pandemic, the U.S. must produce essential equipment supplies and pharmaceuticals for ourselves."
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told reporters earlier in the day that the United States has been losing out to countries such as China and India because of an "unfair competitive advantage because of their lax regulatory environment."
Navarro, an assistant to Trump and director of trade and manufacturing policy, complained during a conference call with reporters, that governments in Ireland, Singapore and Switzerland also draw industry away from the United States because of their tax advantages.
"You see a country like Ireland punching way above its weight simply because of its tax advantage," Navarro said.
The adviser said one section of Trump's order will require several departments, including Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs and Defense, to "buy American" when it comes to drugs and medical supplies.
Another section will focus on deregulation, which he says should free up regulators such as the Food and Drug Administration to accelerate drug approvals and the Environmental Protection Agency for manufacturing facilities.
"This is a broad order that covers not just medicines, but medical supplies and equipment," he said. "If we learned anything from the [COVID-19] pandemic, it's that we're dangerously overdependent on foreign nations for our essential medicines or medical supplies."
The overarching goal of the order, he added, is to encourage pharmaceutical companies and other medical manufacturers to make products in the United States. It will also address drug pricing and ensure proper stockpiles of drugs and supplies for future pandemics.