Donald Trump’s unique and highly personal brand of industrial policy is bearing fruit, even before he takes office.
Bloomberg reports a number of U.S. companies already have called off or postponed plans to offshore operations in Mexico. That’s according to the CEO of Tacna, a California firm that helps companies build manufacturing facilities south of the border. Another, similar Texas-based firm says two of the five firms it is working with have put plans on ice. The main reason is Trump’s threat to slap a 35% tariff on their imported products – a threat which he has, as president, some authority to make good on.
Even more powerful than the “stick” of tariffs is the “carrot” of reduced taxes on overseas earnings, which is something the President cannot do unilaterally, but is looking increasingly possible in Congress next year. Apple alone has $181 billion locked overseas, and would probably be happy to move more of its operations to the U.S. if it could repatriate that cash at a lower tax rate.
That’s no doubt why yesterday’s Trump tech meeting turned out to be such a cordial affair, despite the fact that the tech industry lined up almost in lockstep behind Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, China sent a warning shot across the bow of ship Trump. A senior state planning official told the China Daily that it may slap tariffs on an unnamed auto maker for monopolistic behavior. Shares of both Ford and GM fell in response.