PCB007 Magazine

PCB007-June2021

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14 PCB007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2021 In earlier times, economists said the con- sumer should always opt to purchase items from the lowest-priced supplier, regardless of origin. is policy always benefitted the con- sumer. Tariffs and regulations were designed to enforce fair and equal access in an economic world that once was a great deal simpler than today. Now, the world economy is a great deal more complex and intertwined than ever be- fore. e theory that developing countries could prosper and provide jobs to help ensure peace and to rebuild economies aer war was a major part of the thinking aer World War II. Europe and Asia rebuilt their economies, pro- viding workers with income and a bright and successful future. e United States prospered as well with a segmentation of staples that bal- anced trade and access to lower-cost goods. e list of items that fit this theory included toys, consumer goods (like electronic items), and high value luxury items like exotic, high quality cars. In more recent times, American industry has been burdened with regulations that increased cost, but have been ignored by other nations. e printed circuit board industry struggled to maintain a world manufacturing position and nearly collapsed in the beginning of the cur- rent century. I remember well a TMRC pre- sentation by Bill Loeb who correctly said that there was "no money in the box (meaning the computer) but in the soware that operat- ed the box." His presentation, "e Winds of Change," was correct; computer company af- ter computer company moved their manu- facturing "offshore." IBM is a good example of a successful computer product—the ink Pad—that was sold off to Lenovo, a Chinese company. Other companies followed—Dell, Compeq, Gateway, and more. Highly trained engineers and workers lost their jobs and were told to re-educate themselves into other types of employment. is is just one of the reasons why our economic policy should address this offshore/onshore issue. But there are other aspects of trading with a single source supplier. e recent world- wide pandemic illustrated the fragile nature of "putting all of one's eggs in one basket." How dangerous is it for electronics companies to design in the United States, but build else- where? Asian suppliers responded quickly to the "pandemic shutdowns" and it seemed as if no company was endangered by a lack of sup- ply. However, medical, personal protection equipment, and medicine were purchased offshore and there was a supply issue for some time. Now we see a shortage in semiconduc- tor chips used in cars and trucks. CBS's news show, 60 Minutes, recently interviewed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, where he discussed this subject and highlighted the Supply Chain: An Industry Veteran's Perspective

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