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President Joe Biden's 'Buy American' Executive Order Could Benefit Western Pennsylvania, Trade Experts Say

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- On Monday afternoon, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to require federal agencies to buy American-made products with American tax dollars.

It's an effort to close loopholes that could help manufacturing companies in western Pennsylvania.

Each year, $600 billion of our federal taxes are spent on products needed by federal agencies. But a lot of that money goes overseas because of loopholes in current rules that President Biden says he's determined to close.

"In what is a very divisive political climate, this may be one of those things that both sides of the aisle can get together on," says David Iwinski, a Pittsburgh-based international trade consultant.

Iwanski told KDKA money editor Jon Delano that federal "Buy American" regulations need revamping.

"There are lots of loopholes and lots of exceptions. What this executive order does is close up those loopholes, push out those exceptions, and also creates a new position within the White House to focus on made in America," said Iwinksi.

"For western Pennsylvania, I think it's a great shot in the arm," says Chris Heck, the president of the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce.

Heck says local manufacturing companies will benefit from the increased chance to sell to the federal government.

"Specific companies, advanced manufacturing, robotics industry, the AI community here on the tech side — and all sorts of companies that we see are critical to that supply chain," says Heck.

The coronavirus pandemic, which cut the supply chain from China and other countries to local manufacturers, also taught a lesson about relying too much on overseas producers of component parts or products.

"Western Pennsylvania companies have definitely been impacted," says Iwinski.

But it's also a chance for local companies to fill in the gap with American-made items.

"This is opportunity. On the one hand, everybody is all worried, where are we going to get our parts? And then there are western PA companies that ought to be saying, 'Hey, pick us,'" Iwinski added.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says he hopes the president's executive order will reverse the job loss in manufacturing jobs.

"We want to be making things again in Pennsylvania, again, and this is one of several steps we have to take to make sure existing laws on buy American can be enforced and benefit Pennsylvania," says Casey.

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