The question of where and how pencils are made has resurfaced in the current debate over American trade policy. Policymakers often try to revive trade-impacted low-tech sectors through trade protection. The pencil industry’s experience highlights the difficulties of this approach.
Many industry observers are sounding alarms about the looming impact of automation, robots and 3D printing, which they fear will destroy jobs, disrupt value chains and maybe even reduce the need for international trade. But data and evidence don’t support the hype.
The next generation of smarter and more powerful machines will rely on even more sophisticated semiconductors to achieve new capabilities. Pressure is on to “win” in the global chip race, which is why efforts to protect innovations in chipmaking are front and center in the current trade war – for better and for worse.
U.S. footwear production dates as far back as 1750, but today 98 percent of shoes are manufactured abroad. Historically, footwear tariffs have been out of step with the United States’ general approach to free trade. High tariffs on products like shoes hit low-income families the hardest – particularly those with children – as these families spend the highest share of their incomes on home goods that tend to be imported.
Manufacturers of labor-intensive products like apparel have already been looking elsewhere in Asia as labor costs continue to rise in China. China has not substantially increased market access for foreign investors in many sectors, causing foreign investment to slow or flatline in recent years. With lingering doubts about the worsening investment climate in China, the trade war is hastening decision-making that had already been underway.
U.S. trade policy toward China under the Trump Administration is heavily focused on addressing the perceived unfairness and competitive disadvantages created by China’s industrial policies, chief among them, Made in China 2025. Here’s your Essential graphic on the policy’s core components.
Made in China 2025 calls for achieving “self-sufficiency” through technology substitution while becoming a “manufacturing superpower” that dominates the global market in critical high-tech industries. That could be a problem for countries that rely on exporting high-tech products or the global supply chain for high-tech components.
The super powers of the materials in our jeans, suits, and mattresses require textile innovation, something at which American researchers, engineers, and designers in the textile industry excel.
Europe, North America, Japan and Russia are the biggest traditional markets for snowboarding. As the Olympic Winter Games kick off, the industry is hoping new events and even more spectacular tricks will provide “big air” to the sport’s popularity, particularly in Asia.
The operator’s manual for the popular entry-level Honda Civic is 601 pages. It doesn’t fit in the glove box; it comes in the form of an electronic document to download, which seems appropriate considering the number of electronic components in the car. High-tech, high-cost, components are lightweight and positioned to move long distances on a just-in-time basis.