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Q4 2019

The Trade War and Its Impact on the Location Decision Process

By Jay Rogers

AreaDevelopment Magazine

How can site selectors survive and also find fresh opportunities in a world where not only tariffs, but also national boundaries and trade barriers, will become more meaningful than they have been in the recent past?

If you’ve picked up a newspaper, gone online or even walked past a television during the past two and a half years, you know that the U.S. government has been in an outright trade war with the People’s Republic of China and has levied, or threatened to levy, tariffs on friend and foe alike. The Trump administration views tariffs as its primary weapon in addressing what it sees as global trade imbalances that are harmful to the economic and even national security interests of the United States.

The Trump administration’s trade ire has not been reserved for countries considered strategic adversaries but has also been directed at some of America’s oldest and staunchest geopolitical allies, such as Germany, France, South Korea, Canada, and others. The administration’s primary focus, however, has been on China, which it views as both a trade manipulator and the first significant geopolitical adversary the U.S. has faced since the end of the Cold War. Although recently (October 2019) the Trump administration announced a partial trade deal with China, that “deal” left in place Section 301 tariffs of 15–25 percent on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods and sidestepped many critical issues in the U.S.-China trade relationship, including intellectual property protection.

The purpose of this article is not to give an opinion regarding the administration’s goals or tactics, but to give tips on how to survive, or even thrive, in the midst of the many changes under way in America’s trading relationships around the world.