U.S. Vice President Harris

Japan’s Prime Minister Suga’s visit to the United States — agreements on a range of important topics

Japan’s Prime Minister Suga was the first head of state to visit President Biden and Vice President Harris in Washington. There were a series of meetings on Friday, April 16 with a series of documents released afterwards reviewing the importance of the alliance to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and announcement of expanded future collaboration between Japan and the United States. The lead document is entitled U.S.- Japan Joint Leaders’ Statement: “U.S. – JAPANGLOBAL PARTNERSHIPFOR A NEW ERA” which summarizes the major areas discussed and agreed. See White House Briefing Room, U.S.- Japan Joint Leaders’ Statement: “U.S. – JAPAN GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR A NEW ERA” , April 16, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/16/u-s-japan-joint-leaders-statement-u-s-japan-global-partnership-for-a-new-era/. Regional security, human rights, joint efforts on innovation, response to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the Summer Olympic games in Tokyo in 2021, and people-to-people ties are some of the issues addressed. The Joint Leaders’ Statement is copied below.

“President Joseph R. Biden is honored to welcome Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide for the first foreign-leader visit of his presidency. Today, the United States and Japan renew an Alliance that has become a cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. An ocean separates our countries, but commitments to universal values and common principles, including freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, international law, multilateralism, and a free and fair economic order, unite us. Together we pledge to demonstrate that free and democratic nations, working together, are able to address the global threats from COVID-19 and climate change while resisting challenges to the free and open rules-based international order. Through this new era of friendship between the United States and Japan, each of our democracies will grow stronger still.

“Our historic partnership is essential to the safety and prosperity of both our peoples. Forged in the wake of strife, the Alliance has become a bedrock to each of our nations. The world has changed many times over; our ties have pulled tighter. Our democracies have flourished, our economies have thrived, and we have become leaders in innovation. Our cultural and people-to-people ties have grown ever-deeper, and together we have led in multilateral institutions, in expanding global commerce and investment, and in advancing peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. In celebration of our long-standing and close bonds, President Biden and Prime Minister Suga recommit themselves to an indelible Alliance, to a rules-based approach to regional and global order founded on universal values and common principles, and to cooperation with all those who share in these objectives. The United States and Japan will remake these commitments for a new era.

“THE ALLIANCE: FORGING A FREE AND OPEN INDO-PACIFIC

“The U.S.-Japan Alliance is unwavering, and we are more prepared than ever to address regional challenges. Our Alliance advances a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific based on our commitment to universal values and common principles, and the promotion of inclusive economic prosperity. We respect sovereignty and territorial integrity and are committed to peacefully resolving disputes and to opposing coercion. We promote shared norms in the maritime domain, including freedom of navigation and overflight, as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“President Biden and Prime Minister Suga committed to further strengthening the U.S.-Japan Alliance to expand on this vision, and fully endorsed the March 2021 Joint Statement of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee. Japan resolved to bolster its own national defense capabilities to further strengthen the Alliance and regional security. The United States restated its unwavering support for Japan’s defense under the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear. It also reaffirmed the fact that Article V of the Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands. Together, we oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands. The United States and Japan committed to enhance deterrence and response capabilities in line with the increasingly challenging security environment, to deepen defense cooperation across all domains, including cyber and space, and to bolster extended deterrence. We also highlighted the importance of strengthening bilateral cybersecurity and information security, a foundational component of closer defense cooperation, and of safeguarding our technological advantages. We remain committed to the implementation of the current arrangements on the U.S. forces realignment, including the construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko as the only solution that avoids the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, the Field Carrier Landing Practice Facility at Mageshima, and the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps units from Okinawa to Guam. We resolved to conclude in a timely manner a meaningful multi-year Host Nation Support agreement to ensure the stable and sustainable stationing of the U.S. forces in Japan.

“President Biden and Prime Minister Suga exchanged views on the impact of China’s actions on peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world, and shared their concerns over Chinese activities that are inconsistent with the international rules-based order, including the use of economic and other forms of coercion. We will continue to work with each other based on universal values and common principles. We also recognize the importance of deterrence to maintain peace and stability in the region. We oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea. We reiterated our objections to China’s unlawful maritime claims and activities in the South China Sea and reaffirmed our strong shared interest in a free and open South China Sea governed by international law, in which freedom of navigation and overflight are guaranteed, consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues. We share serious concerns regarding the human rights situations in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The United States and Japan recognized the importance of candid conversations with China, reiterated their intention to share concerns directly, and acknowledged the need to work with China on areas of common interest.

“The United States and Japan reaffirmed their commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea, urging North Korea to abide by its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions, and called for full implementation by the international community. We intend to strengthen deterrence to maintain peace and stability in the region and will work together and with others to address the dangers associated with North Korea’s nuclear and missile program, including the risk of proliferation. President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the immediate resolution of the abductions issue.

“Together, we will continue to work with allies and partners, including with Australia and India through the Quad, which has never been stronger, to build the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific we all seek. We support ASEAN’s unity and centrality in the Indo-Pacific, as well as the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. We also concurred that trilateral cooperation with the Republic of Korea is essential to our shared security and prosperity. We firmly condemn violence committed by the Myanmar military and police against civilians, and commit to continue taking action to press for the immediate cessation of violence, the release of those who are detained, and a swift return to democracy.

AN ALLIANCE FOR A NEW ERA

“Recognizing that our shared security and prosperity requires new forms of 21st century cooperation, President Biden and Prime Minister Suga have launched a new Competitiveness and Resilience (CoRe) Partnership. Our partnership will ensure that we lead a sustainable, inclusive, healthy, green global economic recovery. It will also generate economic growth guided by open and democratic principles, supported by transparent trade rules and regulations and high labor and environmental standards, and aligned with a low-carbon future. To achieve these goals, the partnership will focus on i) competitiveness and innovation, ii) COVID-19 response, global health, and health security, and iii) climate change, clean energy, and green growth and recovery.

“The United States and Japan recognize that digital economy and emerging technologies have the potential to transform societies and bring about tremendous economic opportunities. We will collaborate to enhance our countries’ competitiveness, individually and together, by deepening cooperation in research and technology development in life sciences and biotechnology, artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, and civil space. President Biden and Prime Minister Suga affirmed their commitment to the security and openness of 5th generation (5G) wireless networks and concurred that it is important to rely on trustworthy vendors. The United States and Japan will engage with others through our enhanced Global Digital Connectivity Partnership to catalyze investments and to provide training and capacity building to promote vibrant digital economies. We will also partner on sensitive supply chains, including on semi-conductors, promoting and protecting the critical technologies that are essential to our security and prosperity.

“The United States and Japan are committed to maintaining and further strengthening our robust bilateral trade relationship while advancing shared interests, including digital trade cooperation, the development of trade policies that support climate change objectives, World Trade Organization (WTO) reform, and promoting inclusive growth in the Indo-Pacific. We will continue to work together bilaterally, as well as within the G7 and the WTO, to address the use of non-market and other unfair trade practices, including violations of intellectual property rights, forced technology transfer, excess capacity issues, and the use of trade distorting industrial subsidies. We reaffirm our commitment to achieving prosperity and maintaining economic order in the Indo-Pacific region while engaging with other like-minded partners.

“Acknowledging that the climate crisis is an existential threat to the world, we realize that our countries must play a critical role in leading the global effort to combat this crisis. The United States and Japan are committed to taking decisive climate action by 2030, both aligned with efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2050 greenhouse-gas emissions net-zero goals. In recognition of this responsibility, President Biden and Prime Minister Suga have launched the U.S.-Japan Climate Partnership. This partnership has three pillars: first, Paris Agreement implementation and achievement of the 2030 targets/ nationally determined contributions (NDCs); second, clean energy technology development, deployment, and innovation; and third, efforts to support decarbonization in other countries, especially in the Indo-Pacific.

“COVID-19 has shown our countries and the world that we are not prepared for a biological catastrophe. To that end, the United States and Japan will also strengthen cooperation to advance health security, respond to future public health crises, and build global health. At the first-ever leaders’ summit of the Quad on March 12, 2021, we established the Quad Vaccine Experts Group designed to expand safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, procurement, and delivery for the Indo-Pacific region to supplement multilateral efforts. As we respond to COVID-19, we must also prepare for the next pandemic and strengthen global health security and bilateral public and private cooperation on global health. We will work together to reform the World Health Organization by strengthening its ability to prevent pandemics through early and effective prevention, detection, and response to potential health emergencies, and by increasing its transparency and ensuring it is free from undue influence. We will also support a transparent and independent evaluation and analysis, free from interference and undue influence, of the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak and for investigating outbreaks of unknown origin in the future. We resolved to take decisive action to help the Indo-Pacific build better regional pandemic preparedness, and will work together and multilaterally to build the capacity of all countries to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks, including through existing initiatives like the Global Health Security Agenda, and a new partnership coordinating on a health security financing mechanism, regional surge capacity, and triggers for rapid response. Furthermore, as we look toward a healthier and more resilient future, we will bolster our support for COVAX. We will also cooperate on global COVID-19 vaccine supply and manufacturing needs toward ending the pandemic.

“These new partnerships will harness our leadership in science, innovation, technology, and health at a time of extraordinary geopolitical change. They will allow us to build back better in the Indo-Pacific, leading the region to a more resilient and vibrant future.

LOOKING FORWARD

“The charges we take up today are considerable, but we face them with resolve and unity. Together, we will ensure that our security relationship is steadfast, despite challenges to our regional vision; that our partnership fuels a sustainable global economic recovery, after a year of global grief and hardship; and that we cooperate with like-minded partners around the world to lead a rules-based international order, despite challenges to its freedom and openness. People-to-people ties form the bedrock of our friendship and it is through initiatives such as the Mansfield Fellowship Program that we will continue to build bridges between our two societies that will sustain our Alliance into the future. President Biden supports Prime Minister Suga’s efforts to hold a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. Both leaders expressed their pride in the U.S. and Japanese athletes who have trained for these Games and will be competing in the best traditions of the Olympic spirit. Our governments will continue to meet at all levels, including to coordinate and implement our policies toward realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific. Above all, we renew our investment in the very idea of steadfast alliances – knowing that our partnership will make security and prosperity possible for both our peoples for decades to come.”

Other documents released include:

Fact Sheet: U.S.-Japan Competitiveness and Resilience (CoRe) Partnership, April 16, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/16/fact-sheet-u-s-japan-competitiveness-and-resilience-core-partnership/;

U.S.-Japan Climate Partnership on Ambition, Decarbonization, and Clean Energy, April 16, 2021,https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/U.S.-Japan-Climate-Partnership.pdf;

Remarks by President Biden and Prime Minister Suga of Japan at Press Conference, April 16, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/04/16/remarks-by-president-biden-and-prime-minister-suga-of-japan-at-press-conference/.

Copied below is the Fact Sheet on the CoRe Partnership which reviews cooperation on innovation including research and development, securing supply chains, reviews efforts needed to solve the current COVID-19 pandemic and improve global responsiveness to future outbreaks, and reviews the joint efforts to address climate change through leadership and helping other countries achieve meaningful progress.

“The United States and Japan pledge to revitalize our Alliance and make practical commitments to fulfill its potential. Together we will advance innovation, end this pandemic and protect the world from future ones, combat the climate crisis, and enhance our people-to-people ties. Through these concrete initiatives, the United States and Japan will deliver results for our people, the Indo-Pacific, and the world. 

Competitiveness and Innovation

“Throughout our individual and shared histories, the United States and Japan have been global leaders in innovation. Our new partnership for competitiveness and innovation carries on that tradition, focusing on scientific and technological advances. Together, we will lead a sustainable, green global economic growth, guided by the principles of openness and democracy. This includes our cooperation on research and technology development across diverse fields: Cancer Moonshot, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, quantum information science and technology, civil space cooperation (including the Artemis program and asteroid exploration), and secure information and communications technology (ICT), among others. With this partnership between two of the world’s leading economies, we will lead the globe in building back better and promoting sustainable growth in the future.

“Together, the United States and Japan will:

“- Advance secure and open 5G networks, including Open Radio Access Networks (“Open-RAN”), by fostering innovation and by promoting trustworthy vendors and diverse markets.

“- Strengthen competitiveness in the digital field by investing in research, development, testing, and deployment of secure networks and advanced ICT including 5G and next-generation mobile networks (“6G” or “Beyond 5G”). The United States has committed $2.5 billion to this effort, and Japan has committed $2 billion. 

“- Build on successful U.S.-Japan cooperation in third-countries and launch a Global Digital Connectivity Partnership to promote secure connectivity and a vibrant digital economy while building the cybersecurity capacity of our partners to address shared threats. 

“- Strengthen collaboration and information exchange between U.S. and Japanese ICT experts in global standards development.

“- Cooperate on sensitive supply chains, including semi-conductors, and on the promotion and protection of critical technologies.

“- Advance biotechnology for the global good by focusing on genome sequencing and the principles of openness, transparency, collaboration, and research integrity.

“- Reinforce collaboration and partnerships between research institutions on quantum information science and technology through joint research and exchange of researchers.

COVID-19 Response, Global Health, and Health Security

“The United States and Japan have built a partnership to help the Indo-Pacific region recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, including through the landmark Quad Vaccine Partnership [LINK] with Australia and India, taking shared action necessary to expand safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, and working to strengthen and assist countries in the Indo-Pacific with vaccination. We will also expand our partnership beyond COVID-19, building longer-term global health security to help prevent the next pandemic.

“Together, the United States and Japan will:

“- Enhance our support to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, including the COVAX facility, and encourage others to do the same thereby collectively filling the financial needs to ensure equitable access to safe, effective, and affordable vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics particularly in developing countries.

“- Coordinate closely, through the Quad Vaccine Partnership, to facilitate production, procurement, and delivery of safe, effective, and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific, including by expanding manufacturing capacity of COVID-19 vaccines in India.

“- In a new partnership, coordinate health security financing, regional surge capacity, and triggers for rapid response.

“- Establish regional pandemic response surge capacity, working with partners to promote manufacturing of personal protective equipment and medical countermeasures.

“- Work together and with others toward World Health Organization reform, including through the creation of swift triggers to respond to future biological threats, an independent oversight mechanism, and accountability for pandemic response.

“- Support a transparent and independent evaluation and analysis, free from interference and undue influence, of the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak, and for investigating outbreaks of unknown origin in the future.

“- Support the Global Health Security Agenda, as steering group members, to improve global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats.

“- Exchange data and practical knowledge, including simulation data on virus transmission from supercomputers such as Japan’s Fugaku and the United States’ Summit to develop innovative and more effective methods and techniques for infection prevention measures.

“- Reinforce collaboration between research institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development and cooperation for resilient medical supply chains to improve preparedness for future crises.

Climate Change, Clean Energy, and Green Growth and Recovery

“The United States and Japan have launched a new partnership to address climate change and to promote green, sustainable global growth and recovery making full use of our technologies in the clean energy and other relevant sectors.

“The two leaders are committed to taking decisive climate action by 2030, aligned both with efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius and with our 2050 greenhouse gas emissions net-zero goals. The United States and Japan will align official international financing with the global achievement of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050 and deep emission reductions in the 2020s, and will work to promote the flow of public and private capital toward climate-aligned investments and away from high-carbon investments.

“Together, the United States and Japan will:

“- Cooperate on Paris Agreement implementation, with a focus on achieving our respective 2030 targets/nationally determined contributions and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions net-zero goals.

“- Collaborate and support innovation, development, and deployment of such clean-energy technologies as renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, grid modernization, energy storage (including batteries and long-duration storage technologies), smart grid, hydrogen, Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage/Carbon Recycling, industrial decarbonization and advanced nuclear power.

“- Promote development and use of adaptive climate- and environment-friendly infrastructure related to grid optimization, demand response, smart grids, and renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“- Cooperate on other areas that contribute to climate change mitigation, clean energy and green growth and recovery, including ICT technology (such as smart cities, power saving ICT infrastructure, and digital solutions to infrastructure management), carbon neutral ports as well as sustainable and climate-smart agriculture.

“- Support developing countries, including those in the Indo-Pacific region, to rapidly deploy renewable energy, drive the decarbonization of our their economies, and accelerate diverse, ambitious, and realistic transition paths in the region, toward the realization of net-zero emissions globally no later than 2050, including through the newly established Japan-U.S. Clean Energy Partnership (“JUCEP”) and other country-level climate and clean energy collaborative activities. 

Expanding and Renewing Our Partnership

“The United States and Japan will continue to add new dimensions to our partnership while cooperating in the fields of long-standing areas.

“The United States and Japan will strengthen our people-to-people ties. The next generation of leaders who will continue to strengthen the bonds between the United States and Japan are participating in our extensive international exchange programs, working together on joint projects and research. In this spirit, we are proud to announce the resumption of the Mansfield Fellowship program. Together, we will redouble our energies to build the next generation of American experts on Japan through a renewed two-year fellowship program. We are also expanding opportunities for American students that are historically underrepresented in education abroad – including, but not limited to, first-generation college students, students in STEM fields, ethnic minority students, students with disabilities, students attending minority-serving institutions, and community college students – by offering an additional 20 Gilman Scholarships for study abroad in Japan. Finally, like the United States, Japan recognizes the importance of addressing the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle countries of Central America, and is committed to addressing those issues together.”

Conclusion

The Indo Pacific region faces a lot of challenges including those flowing from China’s territorial initiatives, human rights issues raised and coercive tactics on neighboring countries as well as the ongoing North Korea nuclear threat. The Biden-Harris Administration have been putting considerable focus on the Indo-Pacific region including by visits by the U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Secretary of Defense to Japan, Korea and India (Sec. of Defense only), by the Quad Vaccine Partnership (U.S., Japan, India, Australia) for expanded production of COVID-19 vaccines in India for distribution in the Indo Pacific region, with outreach to leaders in the region by the President and others in the Administration and by yesterday’s state visit by Prime Minister Suga.

The commercial issues of interest to the U.S. and Japan – technological leadership, secure supply chains, pursuing a green recovery and getting past the COVID-19 pandemic in an equitable manner for all — are important issues for all major trading partners. President Biden has put a focus on taking actions to show that democratic governments hold the key to the future of the world and not autocratic governments. He has also stressed the importance of alliances.

Yesterday’s meeting between President Biden, VIce President Harris and Prime Minister Suga reflected an effort to make progress on the pressing global issues of the day within a framework of the President’s agenda on climate change, competitiveness, and building back better from the pandemic. It was an important day and provides hopes for progress on many fronts in the months ahead while reinforcing the U.S.-Japan long-term commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Biden Administration’s efforts to rein in the COVID-19 pandemic start as global new cases tops ten million over the last two weeks for the first time

January 20, 2021 saw the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala D. Harris as the new Vice President. The top priority for the new Administration is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on ramping up vaccinations across the country with a goal of 100 million additional vaccination shots in the first 100 days of the new Administration. The new Administration comes into office as the global pandemic records its worst two weeks and records more than ten million confirmed new cases in the last fourteen days (through January 16). See European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, COVID-19 situation update worldwide, as of week 2 2021, https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/geographical-distribution-2019-ncov-cases (total global cases 94.6 million, total deaths 2.037 million, new cases last 14 days 10.052 million). Deaths in the U.S. by January 21st have topped 416,000 and total new cases in the U.S. are over 25 million. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/. The number of doses of vaccines distributed in the U.S. was 35.99 million on January 20 with 16.524 million vaccinations provided. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html

In a busy first half day as President, President Biden signed seventeen Executive Orders, memoranda and other documents including rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and notified UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutterres that the United States would remain a member of the World Health Organization. The January 20 letter to Secretary-General Gutteres is copied below and can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/01/20/letter-his-excellency-antonio-guterres/.

The Executive Order signed by President Biden is titled “Executive Order on Organizing and Mobilizing the United States Government to Provide a Unified and Effective Response to Combat COVID-19 and to Provide United States Leadership on Global Health and Security” and can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/20/executive-order-organizing-and-mobilizing-united-states-government-to-provide-unified-and-effective-response-to-combat-covid-19-and-to-provide-united-states-leadership-on-global-health-and-security/. The purpose of the order is laid out in Section 1.

Section 1.  Purpose.  The Federal Government must act swiftly and aggressively to combat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  To that end, this order creates the position of Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President and takes other steps to organize the White House and activities of the Federal Government to combat COVID-19 and prepare for future biological and pandemic threats. “

The other four sections of the Executive Order deal with “Organizing the White House to Combat COVID-19” (Section 2), “United States Leadership on Global Health and Security and the Global Health and Security and the Global COVID-19 Response” (Section 3), “Prompt Resolution of Issues Related to the United States COVID-19 Response” (Section 4) and general provisions (Section 5). Section 2 includes efforts by the Federal Government to beef up production and distribution of “personal protective equipment, vaccines, tests and other supplies” including through use of the Defense Production Act. Section 3 includes efforts to engage with and strengthen the World Health Organization.

The text of the Executive Order is reproduced below (quotation marks are not added).

Executive Order on Organizing and Mobilizing the United States Government to Provide a Unified and Effective Response to Combat COVID-19 and to Provide United States Leadership on Global Health and Security

January 20, 2021

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:  

Section 1.  Purpose.  The Federal Government must act swiftly and aggressively to combat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  To that end, this order creates the position of Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President and takes other steps to organize the White House and activities of the Federal Government to combat COVID-19 and prepare for future biological and pandemic threats. 

Sec. 2.  Organizing the White House to Combat COVID-19.  (a)  In order to effectively, fully, and immediately respond to COVID-19, there is established within the Executive Office of the President the position of Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President (COVID-19 Response Coordinator) and the position of Deputy Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response.  The COVID-19 Response Coordinator shall report directly to the President; advise and assist the President and executive departments and agencies (agencies) in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic; coordinate all elements of the COVID-19 response; and perform such duties as the President may otherwise direct.  These duties shall include:  

(i)    coordinating a Government-wide effort to reduce disparities in the response, care, and treatment of COVID-19, including racial and ethnic disparities;

(ii)   coordinating the Federal Government’s efforts to produce, supply, and distribute personal protective equipment, vaccines, tests, and other supplies for the Nation’s COVID-19 response, including through the use of the Defense Production Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 4501 et seq.);

(iii)  coordinating the Federal Government’s efforts to expand COVID-19 testing and the use of testing as an effective public health response;

(iv)   coordinating the Federal Government’s efforts to support the timely, safe, and effective delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the United States population;

(v)    coordinating the Federal Government’s efforts to support the safe reopening and operation of schools, child care providers, and Head Start programs, and to help ensure the continuity of educational and other services for young children and elementary and secondary students during the COVID-19 pandemic; and

(vi)   coordinating, as appropriate, with State, local, Tribal, and territorial authorities.

(b)  The COVID-19 Response Coordinator shall have the authority to convene principals from relevant agencies, in consultation with the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy (APDP) on matters involving the domestic COVID-19 response, and in consultation with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA) on matters involving the global COVID-19 response.  The COVID-19 Response Coordinator shall also coordinate any corresponding deputies and interagency processes.

(c)  The COVID-19 Response Coordinator may act through designees in performing these or any other duties.

Sec. 3.  United States Leadership on Global Health and Security and the Global COVID-19 Response. (a)  Preparing to Respond to Biological Threats and Pandemics.  To identify, monitor, prepare for, and, if necessary, respond to emerging biological and pandemic threats: 

(i)   The APNSA shall convene the National Security Council (NSC) Principals Committee as necessary to coordinate the Federal Government’s efforts to address such threats and to advise the President on the global response to and recovery from COVID-19, including matters regarding:  the intersection of the COVID-19 response and other national security equities; global health security; engaging with and strengthening the World Health Organization; public health, access to healthcare, and the secondary impacts of COVID-19; and emerging biological risks and threats, whether naturally occurring, deliberate, or accidental. 

(ii)  Within 180 days of the date of this order, the APNSA shall, in coordination with relevant agencies, the COVID-19 Response Coordinator, and the APDP, complete a review of and recommend actions to the President concerning emerging domestic and global biological risks and national biopreparedness policies.  The review and recommended actions shall incorporate lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and, among other things, address:  the readiness of the pandemic supply chain, healthcare workforce, and hospitals; the development of a framework of pandemic readiness with specific triggers for when agencies should take action in response to large-scale biological events; pandemic border readiness; the development and distribution of medical countermeasures; epidemic forecasting and modeling; public health data modernization; bio-related intelligence; bioeconomic investments; biotechnology risks; the development of a framework for coordinating with and distributing responsibilities as between the Federal Government and State, local, Tribal, and territorial authorities; and State, local, Tribal, and territorial preparedness for biological events. 

(b)  NSC Directorate on Global Health Security and Biodefense.  There shall be an NSC Directorate on Global Health Security and Biodefense, which shall be headed by a Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense.  The Senior Director shall be responsible for monitoring current and emerging biological threats, and shall report concurrently to the APNSA and to the COVID-19 Response Coordinator on matters relating to COVID-19.  The Senior Director shall oversee the Global Health Security Agenda Interagency Review Council, which was established pursuant to Executive Order 13747 of November 4, 2016 (Advancing the Global Health Security Agenda To Achieve a World Safe and Secure From Infectious Disease Threats), and is hereby reconvened as described in that order.

(c)  Responsibility for National Biodefense Preparedness.  Notwithstanding any statements in the National Security Presidential Memorandum-14 of September 18, 2018 (Support for National Biodefense), the APNSA shall be responsible for coordinating the Nation’s biodefense preparedness efforts, and, as stated in sections 1 and 2 of this order, the COVID-19 Response Coordinator shall be responsible for coordinating the Federal Government’s response to the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Sec. 4.  Prompt Resolution of Issues Related to the United States COVID-19 Response.  The heads of agencies shall, as soon as practicable, bring any procedural, departmental, legal, or funding obstacle to the COVID-19 response to the attention of the COVID-19 Response Coordinator.  The COVID-19 Response Coordinator shall, in coordination with relevant agencies, the APDP, and the APNSA, as appropriate, immediately bring to the President’s attention any issues that require Presidential guidance or decision-making.

Sec. 5.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect: 

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR. 

On the White House webpage, there is a section on the Biden Administration’s priorities. The section on COVID-19 provides explanation of the actions perceived to be needed, including increased production of personal protective equipment and additional funding to help with vaccinations, keeping schools open and help state and local governments cope with the revenue shortfalls from the pandemic. See White House Priorities,COVID-19, The Biden-Harris plan to beat COVID-19, https://www.whitehouse.gov/priorities/covid-19//. The COVID-19 priority description is copied below.

“The American people deserve an urgent, robust, and professional response to the growing public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. President Biden believes that the federal government must act swiftly and aggressively to help protect and support our families, small businesses, first responders, and caregivers essential to help us face this challenge, those who are most vulnerable to health and economic impacts, and our broader communities – not to blame others or bail out corporations.

“The Biden-Harris administration will always:

Listen to science

Ensure public health decisions are informed by public health professionals

Promote trust, transparency, common purpose, and accountability in our government

“President Biden and Vice President Harris have a seven-point plan to beat COVID-19.

Ensure all Americans have access to regular, reliable, and free testing.

“Double the number of drive-through testing sites.

“Invest in next-generation testing, including at home tests and instant tests, so we can scale up our testing capacity by orders of magnitude.

“Stand up a Pandemic Testing Board like Roosevelt’s War Production Board. It’s how we produced tanks, planes, uniforms, and supplies in record time, and it’s how we will produce and distribute tens of millions of tests.

“Establish a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps to mobilize at least 100,000 Americans across the country with support from trusted local organizations in communities most at risk to perform culturally competent approaches to contact tracing and protecting at-risk populations.

Fix personal protective equipment (PPE) problems for good.

“President Biden is taking responsibility and giving states, cities, tribes, and territories the critical supplies they need.

“Fully use the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of masks, face shields, and other PPE so that the national supply of personal protective equipment exceeds demand and our stores and stockpiles — especially in hard-hit areas that serve disproportionately vulnerable populations — are fully replenished.

“Build immediately toward a future, flexible American-sourced and manufactured capability to ensure we are not dependent on other countries in a crisis.

“Provide clear, consistent, evidence-based guidance for how communities should navigate the pandemic – and the resources for schools, small businesses, and families to make it through.

“Social distancing is not a light switch. It is a dial. President Biden will direct the CDC to provide specific evidence-based guidance for how to turn the dial up or down relative to the level of risk and degree of viral spread in a community, including when to open or close certain businesses, bars, restaurants, and other spaces; when to open or close schools, and what steps they need to take to make classrooms and facilities safe; appropriate restrictions on size of gatherings; when to issue stay-at-home restrictions.

“Establish a renewable fund for state and local governments to help prevent budget shortfalls, which may cause states to face steep cuts to teachers and first responders.

“Call on Congress to pass an emergency package to ensure schools have the additional resources they need to adapt effectively to COVID-19.

“Provide a ‘restart package’ that helps small businesses cover the costs of operating safely, including things like plexiglass and PPE.

“’THIS ISN’T ABOUT POLITICS. IT’S ABOUT SAVING LIVES.’

“PRESIDENT BIDEN, SEPTEMBER 16, 2020

Plan for the effective, equitable distribution of treatments and vaccines — because development isn’t enough if they aren’t effectively distributed.

“Invest $25 billion in a vaccine manufacturing and distribution plan that will guarantee it gets to every American, cost-free.

“Ensure that politics plays no role in determining the safety and efficacy of any vaccine. The following 3 principles will guide the Biden-Harris administration: Put scientists in charge of all decisions on safety and efficacy; publicly release clinical data for any vaccine the FDA approves; and authorize career staff to write a written report for public review and permit them to appear before Congress and speak publicly uncensored.

“Ensure everyone — not just the wealthy and well-connected — in America receives the protection and care they deserve, and consumers are not price gouged as new drugs and therapies come to market.

Protect older Americans and others at high risk.

“President Biden understands that older Americans and others at high-risk are most vulnerable to COVID-19.

“Establish a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force, as proposed by Vice President Harris, to provide recommendations and oversight on disparities in the public health and economic response. At the end of this health crisis, it will transition to a permanent Infectious Disease Racial Disparities Task Force.

“Create the Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard that Americans can check in real-time to help them gauge whether local transmission is actively occurring in their zip codes. This information is critical to helping all individuals, but especially older Americans and others at high risk, understand what level of precaution to take.

Rebuild and expand defenses to predict, prevent, and mitigate pandemic threats, including those coming from China.

“Immediately restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, originally established by the Obama-Biden administration.

“Immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization, which — while not perfect — is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic.

“Re-launch and strengthen U.S. Agency for International Development’s pathogen-tracking program called PREDICT.

“Expand the number of CDC’s deployed disease detectives so we have eyes and ears on the ground, including rebuilding the office in Beijing.

“Implement mask mandates nationwide by working with governors and mayors and by asking the American people to do what they do best: step up in a time of crisis.

“Experts agree that tens of thousands of lives can be saved if Americans wear masks. President Biden will continue to call on:

“Every American to wear a mask when they are around people outside their household.

“Every Governor to make that mandatory in their state.

“Local authorities to also make it mandatory to buttress their state orders.

“Once we succeed in getting beyond this pandemic, we must ensure that the millions of Americans who suffer long-term side effects from COVID don’t face higher premiums or denial of health insurance because of this new pre-existing condition. The Biden-Harris Administration will work to ensure that the protections for those with pre-existing conditions that were won with Obamacare are protected. And, they will work to lower health care costs and expand access to quality, affordable health care through a Medicare-like public option.”

Comments

While significant parts of the full-throated Biden plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic will require Congressional action on a stimulus package ($1.9 trillion is what is being sought by the Biden team), there are clear areas of action that will take place including increased use of the Defense Production Act to ensure adequate supplies of PPEs to address the needs of all communities in the United States. The U.S. will now have a national plan for both reducing the spread of the virus and for expanding the ability to achieve the desired level of vaccinations. The U.S. will work with the WHO and other members to make the WHO more effective and will participate in COVAX to help ensure vaccine availability for all peoples. The U.S. will also reinstate the efforts to improve detecting and tracking viruses around the world and developing a better prevention and response effort.

Without Congressional action on a significant stimulus package in the coming weeks, the U.S. economy will likely suffer significant contraction as employment levels, already at levels depressed from those when President Trump took office in 2017, will continue to worsen, millions of Americans will be forced from homes and apartments, and tens of thousands of additional business will fold. The Biden plan offers hope that a national plan with cooperation from the states will lead to a curbing of the pandemic and hopefully by the third or fourth quarter of 2021, a return to a more normal state of life for Americans. With the tremendous contraction in some sectors of the U.S. and global economies (e.g., tourism), the Biden plan offers hope of revival as the year progresses.

U.S. engagement with the WHO and participation in COVAX will help improve the global ability to respond to the pandemic in particular by improving the likelihood that vaccines will be available to peoples in all countries as the year progresses.

While economists generally don’t support the concept of onshoring production of particular products, the use of the Defense Production Act to expand production of PPEs that are or are likely to be in short supply will expand global supplies which should be of assistance to other countries as well as the U.S. as the global surge of cases continues.

Nothing in the first day’s activities by the Biden Administration was directly aimed at the World Trade Organization or trade relations. However, the intent of the Biden Administration to work with allies and within multilateral organizations and treaties — as seen in the rejoining of the Paris Climate Agreements and retraction of the notice of withdrawal from the WHO — suggest that the Biden team will be looking for ways to strengthen the WTO while addressing core U.S. concerns.