Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump announced 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% tariffs on aluminum imports. According to Yahoo! Finance, he plans to “impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.”
With Trump, one gets the sense that, if he gets on a roll, he’s going to stay on a roll. So, what’s next?
An article on The Balance dances around this question. It implies that countries like Japan and Germany could be Trump’s next targets for protectionist measures.
But the article, whose statistics are based around Census figures, wisely includes the caveat that “the Census provides trade data by country for goods only, not services.”
For nearly 20 years, the US economy has seen its service industry steadily offshored. IT support, customer service – heck, even procurement – have all been offshored. Not necessarily because the workers in the developing countries were good, but largely because they were cheap.
But what if Trump decided to reverse this trend with tariffs?
Suddenly, the call centers wouldn’t be so inexpensive. And, in that case, would US-based companies reshore the outsourced functions? Or, perhaps a better question, could US-companies reshore the outsourced functions? Is there enough IT support, customer service and procurement capacity left after so much has been offshored?
It wouldn’t surprise me if we were forced to find out. Trump likes winning, has won some trade-related initiatives, and is likely to focus his efforts on areas where he can continue to win (unlike repealing and replacing Obamacare, which we haven’t heard much about since the US Congress has failed to pass any related legislation).