By Andrea Shalal and Trevor Hunnicutt
CLEVELAND, USA (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden pledged on Thursday to stamp out anti-competitive business practices and ease construction material shortages and transportation delays that are causing sharp price increases in the country.
“In the coming weeks, my administration will take steps to combat these supply pressures, starting with construction materials and transportation bottlenecks, and expanding the work we are doing with microprocessors,” Biden said in a speech at the Cuyahoga Community College of Ohio.
“We will also announce new initiatives to combat anti-competitive practices that hurt small businesses and families.”
In recent weeks, the United States has faced deficits and bottlenecks in sectors ranging from lumber to semiconductors, which have added to backlogs in port shipments.
Along with a labor shortage, these difficulties are making houses, cars, and consumer goods more expensive and more complex to come by.
Economic data from the United States on Friday is expected to show an inflation indicator closely watched by the market, the Core Index of Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), to advance 0.6% in April.
Price hikes and inflation-related fears threaten to undermine Biden’s argument that the US economy needs trillions of dollars in public spending to grow and create jobs in the years to come.
The Democratic president did not specify on Thursday what policies he is considering. But the government has been looking for ways to combat the concentration of industry and monopolies and alleviate shortages of goods, such as lumber and steel, and is studying the impact of the tariffs, according to people familiar with the matter.
Timber shortages have sent prices skyrocketing and home builders worry that values could rise even higher if the US Commerce Department finally decides to double tariffs on Canadian lumber imports.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Cleveland and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington; additional reporting by David Lawder. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo)