US : ''DESIGN OUT CHINA?'' - 2/4

Many companies were initially reluctant to abandon longstanding supplier relationships over a trade dispute that could be over in months, choosing instead to absorb the tariffs or find ways to share the costs with suppliers and customers.

Now some are re-evaluating those decisions.

GoPro, the camera maker, said last month that it was shifting some production from China to Mexico. Universal Electronics, a manufacturer of remote controls, announced a similar move late last year. And Varex imaging, a Utah based maker of X-ray equipment, said last month that it was working to  ''redirect our supply chain away from China.''

''Most companies took a wait-and-see attitude'' at first, said Peter Guarraia, who leads Bains supply chain practice. ''That was absolutely the mind-set. Now it's : ''I can't wait any longer, I have to take some action.''

Electronics manufacturers could be among the first to feel the full brunt of the trade war. The industry is perhaps uniquely global : Chips made in Oregon or Texas are shipped to a plant in Mexico to be attached to circuit boars made in China alongside capacitors made in Vietnam.

Its not unheard-of for a product or its components to cross the Pacific three or even four times before showing up on a store shelf.

The crackdown on Huawei has opened a new front to the trade war. Huawei buys chips and other components from American manufacturers, and analysts warn that the fight could quickly spread in other companies.

American companies sold more than $200 billion in computers and electronic goods to foreign buyers last year, including $18 billion to China. And while that was a small part of the United States $2.5 trillion total export last year, the broader tech sector has accounted for an outsize share of economic growth in recent years.

Anything that disrupts the global supply chains that the industry relies on could threaten American economic growth, said Torsten Slok, chief economist for Deutsche Bank. Semiconductor sales, he said, have proved to be a reliable indicator of the direction of the broader economy - and sales have been falling this year.

''We will find out soon if the economy was strong enough to withstand this,'' Mr. Slok said.

If the electronics industry sneezes, few places will catch a cold as quickly as Portland. The industry employs close to 40,000 people in Oregon, including 20,000 at the chip maker Intel, the state's largest private employer.

Oregon exported $2.7 billion in electronics goods to China last year, more than any state other than California - a total that doesn't include the output of companies, like ControlTek, that are just across the Columbia River in Washington State.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on Trade War, Tariffs and the World, continues. The World Students Society thanks author, Ben Casselman.


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