As we enter the second quarter of 2017, the global economy is experiencing its sixth year of stagnation, and the growth outlook does not indicate any improvement. Consumers and businesses share a sense of anxiety, uncertainty and reticence regarding both the economic and political environment across the globe.
Here we go again: The U.S president is attacked on a global scale for his thinking on trade and investments. Mrs. Merkel, chancellor of Germany even announced a “new chapter in U.S. European relations” and stated that “Europe must take our fate into our own hands’’. Similar accusations had been raised in 1980 after the election of President Reagan. He was labelled a B class actor, a cowboy and an inexperienced but lucky vote gainer. The accusers were wrong then and they are wrong now!
President Trump lived up to his convictions during the tense G-7 political summit just as he had already done during and after the U.S. presidential campaign. No surprises there when he reflected on the need for more balanced trade relations and the requirement for all nations to pay a fair contribution for the benefits they obtained from the United States.
The US recently announced it would levy anti-dumping penalties against Canada. These actions specifically target softwood timber, dairy, and steel. While the full effects are yet to be fully assessed, and opposition has been raised by an unexpected source: Florida.
Why should we worry about misaligned participations in trade? According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, less than 1 percent of U.S. firms export. Tens of thousands of small-business manufacturers and service sector firms could export their goods and services, but do not. These companies often fear the challenges of going overseas. But all firms entering new markets face shortcomings and disadvantages when compared to local competitors. Due to a lack of local knowledge, unfamiliarity with market conditions, insufficient insights into consumer behavior, and newness to political decision making, all new entrants encounter a “burden of foreignness.” Policymakers need to help prospective exporters overcome this burden and successfully access new opportunities overseas.
President Trump has issued a new executive order focusing on so-called “Buy American, Hire American” policies. Making the announcement at the Snap-On Tools plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the President’s order directs various federal agencies to produce reports and recommendations on government procurement policies, with the goal of increasing domestic employment and production.
The Executive Order (found here) covers two broad areas of government policy: numerous “Buy American” laws and regulations, which set requirements that materials purchased by the government – say, steel for building a bridge – give preference to US domestic producers; and “Hire American,” which aim to address reported abuses of H1B visas that undermine high-skilled domestic labor.