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Tag Archives: Wilbur Ross

Rework of China Policy Again Falls Short

By Ernest Worthman, AWT Exec. Editor, IEEE Sr. Member

Ern’s Perspective

Worthman

Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s Secretary of Commerce, is at it again. In another ridiculous attempt to find something that works in the “whatever it is today” of Trump’s China policy whims, Ross has spun a new policy.

It is like a TV soap opera. Nary a week goes by without one of Trump’s subordinates coming up with a new angle on all of this.

The latest is a bunch of rules by which a telecom supplier will be measured. In the usual diatribe, “These rules demonstrate our commitment to securing the digital economy, while also delivering on President Trump’s commitment to our digital infrastructure” notes Ross.

Ho-hum…is anybody listening anymore? Why take any of this seriously when one never knows what is coming next and what direction to pursue.

So, what IS the latest? Well, now the Department of Commerce (DoC) will look at each case individually. That seems to get them off the hook of having to follow the original Executive Order that, essentially, bans entire vendors.

In the last six months, the potential fallout from banning Chinse technology companies, and the ridiculous tariffing of many others, has proven to be a disaster for the United States. Prices have risen, almost across the board. Tech segment’s sales have slumped, and the holiday shopping extravaganza was threatened. However, overall, little has changed, other than a few delays in implementing these policies and orders.

Many of the telecom players have made known their objections to the bans and tariffs. One is the rural broadband telecom segment, which is heavily invested in Huawei hardware. On the exporting side are the semiconductor manufacturers, for whom China was a major buyer as well as factory sites. The semiconductor industry, which has been stagnant for the last couple of years, has had to take another shot on the chin with these White House policies. And Silicon Valley, obviously, is not happy either.

Having the DoC look at each case on an individual basis is laughable. One of the numbers I saw recently, said there were 120+ companies signed up, looking for permission to do business with China. I have not seen any numbers on how many foreign vendors have gotten in line to have their goods assessed for use in the United States. But I have wonder, given the dislike for this Administration, the tariffs and bans, how many are willing to jump thought such hoops for the time being.

If the government is going to do these assessments in true government fashion, by the time they are done with them, we will, probably, have a thriving community on Mars. When has our government ever been competent and efficient at anything like this unless we were at war? Ross’ position is that each case will be given a “lot of thought” and companies whose outcome is less than desirable will be given the opportunity to appeal. That does not sound like a very effectual process to me.

Is this, really, anything new? Or is it just some reiteration of what has already been said ten ways from Sunday. Perhaps Ross thinks we need a bit more explaining.

The funny part is if this is what they are going to do now, what have they been doing since this vector was announced – sitting around on their hands?

I have to feel sorry for U.S. businesses. Obviously, Trump has no clue as to what it takes to “make America great, again.” So far, all he has managed to do is drive up costs, aggravate and insult our allies [1], alienate the press, further ding the semiconductor industry, and ruin the soybean business. And these are only some of the cases. Had he been allowed to continue to run amuck he would have ruined Christmas this year, as well!

There does not seem to be any type of resolution in the immediate future. There may be a respite for the season, but it will be interesting to see what and, especially, how long, this environment can exist without major ramifications once the new year arrives.

In the end, our allies are tired of this and they are moving on. Nearly universally, our allies have shrugged off following Trump’s ban. And China has moved on. The landscape between China and the U.S. has forever changed, and not necessarily in the United States’ favor.

In the end, chumming up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un should be the sign that this country is not in its best days. Unfortunately, the fallout from this president will follow us long after he is gone.

1.     The U.S. government just proposed tariffs of up to 100 percent on a range of French imports, including cheese, champagne and handbags, This, after, announcing Monday it found France’s newly enacted digital service tax to discriminate against U.S. companies. Man, I am going to miss my brie!