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52 SMT007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2019 Feature by Chris Mitchell IPC–ASSOCIATION CONNECTING ELECTRONICS INDUSTRIES One of the most fundamental truths about human beings generally, and business spe- cifically, is that we crave certainty. When we are optimistic about growth and the business environment, we are more likely to invest in people, equipment, and innovation. But when uncertainty rears its head, we become cautious and postpone our dreams. From where I sit, representing the interests of electronics manufacturers and related com- panies around the world, I regret to say that the future of our industry—while bright over- all—is fraught with uncertainties, from trade policy disputes to government leadership turn- overs and economic and social megatrends. IPC is working with all governments and par- ties to overcome these uncertainties, but there is a lot to tackle. The Future of Major Trade Policies in Doubt Let's start with the future of international trade. The electronics industry is characterized by a complex, integrated web of supply chain relationships that create jobs in all regions of the world. About 80% of IPC members are small- and medium-sized businesses with specialized niches and relatively thin profit margins. But while electronic products and services are at the heart of almost all key industries— from defense and aerospace to automotive, information and communication technologies (ICT), manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and more—many policymakers don't seem to real- ize the importance of keeping those supply chains open. The industry has changed dramatically over the last 50 years as governments steadily reduced tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Com- panies have invested in international supply chains to balance many factors, not only to take advantage of lower costs abroad but also to be closer to billions of consumers abroad. The growth of the global marketplace has delivered tremendous benefits to millions of workers and consumers. What will happen now with several governments and political parties resurrecting trade barriers? Global Political Turmoil Creating Uncertainties for the Industry

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