I was making the rounds at several trade shows and conferences recently when the subject of the U.S. and China trade relationship kept popping up.
I heard it at the North American Industrial Coating Show in Indianapolis, then at Fabtech in Atlanta when finishers gathered with the fabricating industry, and finally is was brought up several times at the Electroless Nickel Conference in Charleston that was hosted by Products Finishing magazine.
I wrote about the subject in PF’s monthly Digital Dispatch electronic issue, opining that when the U.S. and China begin butting heads on trade agreements and tariffs, those who will be hurt most might be the manufacturing and finishing sector.
That sentiment was also echoed by Dr. Christopher Kuehl, an economic analyst for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Intl., and managing partner of Armada Corporate Intelligence.
Dr. Kuehl told those attending a breakfast at FABTECH about what could be an on-going battle between the world’s two super powers on currency and trade. The issue centers on China’s low wages and their cheap cost of materials. The U.S. responded by imposing tariffs on products such as tires, paper and other goods in an attempt to even the playing field. And so on, and so on.
The response of finishers to my Digital Dispatch column was interesting to say the least.
“I consider it a personal challenge to spread the word about “Buy American,” says Edward Day, a design engineer with Norgren Americas in Littleton, CO. “I believe that continued public education about how well made U.S. products are and the benefits to every community that supports manufacturing should be every one’s mission who is associated with manufacturing. We should also practice what we preach. If you’re driving a foreign made vehicle, keep it out of site while you preach.”
Says Roger Roy from Cross-Tech Manufacturing in Crosslake, MN: “The culture of the U.S. must be nudged into buy American made everything for a reasonable period of time. This will allow all American businesses a chance to innovate, develop new technologies and give all workers an opportunity of employment and growth.”
“The only effective way to deal with nations who refuse to follow the rules and honor trade agreements is in a strategic way,” says Frank Shannon from Finishes Limited in Colorado Springs, CO. “Using China as an example, we should implement a flexible Countervailing Duty (CVD) to offset the cheating they do to unbalance trade. As the cheating continues, we ratchet up the duty. As the duty takes away their cheating, the duty goes down.”
There were other comments, much along the same line as those above. Competing against China, India and other nations who pay cheaply for labor and goods is a tough fight, but in the end no one makes better products than those here in the U.S.
That said, we’re focusing on anodizing in this issue, and as you can see by the cover, we emphasize aerospace. Anodizing and aerospace – with its extensive use of lightweight aluminum – go hand in hand, and we have many articles this month that show you how to become an accepted anodizer for the military and aerospace industry.
Enjoy the issue … and oh yes, Buy American.