Yesterday, our Beau Jackson, Robert Stang and Linda Tiller joined manufacturers, distributors and service providers in Kansas City for a discussion about the impact of tariffs on the business community. This insightful program included economic, industry and legal perspectives on current trade conditions and the various implications of recently-imposed tariffs. Pictured at right, Beau Jackson closed the event with these key takeaways:
- The United States is 80% a “consumer” economy – compared to a global average of approximately 40% (and 60% in Germany). Yet, U.S. trade policy seems to focus on raw materials and industrial manufacturing, rather than consumer-driven considerations.
- Finding qualified labor is a much more pressing and difficult issue for manufacturers than tariffs or trade policy
- Rising logistics and supply chain costs have become just as troublesome to companies as tariffs
- Carrier consolidation and new alliances in the shipping industry continue to adversely impact companies that import and export, and is complicating matters at U.S. ports of entry
- Tariff avoidance led to an import surge in late 2018, which furthered port congestion, inflated storage costs and has created large inventory surpluses that could soon have macroeconomic implications
- Supply Chain “Recalibration” – companies and sourcing agents are trying to avoid China by finding new sources in Southeast Asia (particularly Vietnam and the Philippines)
- The recent government shutdown had a tangible impact on the day-to-day fundamentals of trade
- Good infrastructure, just like product quality and reputation, has been instrumental in fostering a robust U.S. economy. Modernizing infrastructure is a must for the U.S. to remain competitive.