(USA Features) Despite the fact that it is cheaper for American companies to manufacture in China, sentiment is growing in the U.S. to move production out of the country as coronavirus spreads.
Even if that means products will cost more, the Washington Examiner reports.
“We’re staring into a significant, significant crisis of supply chain,” Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner told the Washington Examiner. “Cheap labor or cheap manufacturing be damned if you are reliant on them for your life and livelihood.”
Gardner’s warning came amid a shortage of PPE — personal protective equipment — in the U.S. as coronavirus cases spiked. The shortage was caused by virus-related work stoppages at Chinese factories that manufacture gloves, masks, and gowns used by hospitals to handle contagious patients.
Also, Beijing refused to allow some American companies that make the products in China to ship them out of the country amid the pandemic.
Gardner is not alone in his sentiment, the Washington Examiner reported, raising the specter than anger over China’s self-interested response to the outbreak might lead to one of the more dramatic adjustments in global economics in decades.
“Because of the coronavirus problem, people are recognizing that any supply chain that has single points of failure is incredibly vulnerable,” the Heritage Foundation’s Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow in the organization’s Asian Studies Center, told the news site.
“China is going to be very concerned about decoupling, offshoring, [or any] redirection of investments out of China.”
The Chinese government has pushed back against divesting in the country, saying it will lead to a less efficient world where the same goods are more expensive. And the news site reports that some European countries share that view.
But Gardner rejected it, noting that the United States needed to shift at least some manufacturing back home or to safer countries to avoid being caught flat-footed with shortages of needed products in a future crisis.
“If you want to make Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels around the globe, fine, do it, I don’t think anybody cares where the 1986 Matchbox Maserati is coming from,” he told the news site.
“If you’re making life-sustaining drugs solely reliant on a Chinese supply chain that could be disrupted by a corona-type virus that we have now seen several times this decade, you better think twice,” said Gardner, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee for East Asia.
“I don’t think that’s decoupling, I think that’s smart.”