Trump Taps Peter Navarro as Defense Production Act Policy Coordinator During Coronavirus Pandemic

President Donald Trump named current Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro as the policy coordinator for the Defense Production Act during a Friday coronavirus task force briefing.

"That's a very important position," Trump said, "more important probably than it's almost ever been in our country."

Navarro has been a member of the Trump administration since 2017 with a Ph.D in economics from Harvard University.

In March Navarro said he was working with Trump on an executive order which would
keep medicines made abroad out of the national supply chain by providing incentives to American pharmaceutical companies to produce the needed medications and supplies.

"What we've got to do is three things," Navarro told Fox News in March. "We are going to have to buy American, we are going to deregulate so we can get things done faster and, most importantly, we are going to innovate to keep prices down."

Navarro compared the efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus with being at war.

"We are engaged in the most significant industrial mobilization since World War II," Navarro said. "We have a wartime president fighting an invisible enemy and we have the full force of government coupled with the full power of bearing down on this problem for the American people."

peter navarro
Current Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro was named the policy coordinator for the National Production Act by President Donald Trump at a Friday news briefing. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Navarro said the DPA was activated with General Motors to create ventilators because those pieces of equipment are "really the most important thing for patients who become seriously ill. They are literally the lifeline for people."

Other companies that build ventilators were "cooperative, patriotic, moving in Trump time, that is to say as soon as possible, but we did have a problem with GM and VENTEC."

Citing roadblocks with GM Navarro said, "We cannot afford to lose a single day particularly over the next 30-60 days."

"For the most part," Navarro added, "we've had tremendous cooperation from the private sector." Trump singled out GM for allegedly changing the parameters of an agreement for the automobile manufacturer to begin making ventilators for hospitals across the country.

"We thought we had a deal for 40,000 ventilators and all of a sudden the 40,000 came down to 6,000 and then they talked about a higher price than we were discussing so I didn't like it," Trump said. "So we did activate [the Defense Production Act] with respect to General Motors and hopefully maybe we won't even need the full activation."

"Ventec, GM and our supply base have been working around the clock for over a week to meet this urgent need," General Motors said Friday in a statement sent to Newsweek. "Our commitment to build Ventec's high-quality critical care ventilator, VOCSN, has never wavered."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.