After coronavirus the ‘Made in China’ supply chain needs to go

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“Made in China” are words we see often and sometimes they are hidden. When my wife and I are buying pots and pans, we read product names that make it appear as if they were manufactured in Europe. But when you look closely, in very small print, the label reads “Made in China.”

I strongly believe the COVID-19 pandemic will change our world in many ways.

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For American consumers, I believe the allure of cheap “Made in China” products will no longer be attractive.

For me personally, products made in China that are edible have been a longtime concern because of the trust factor.

Can I trust the ingredients of products “Made in China”? I don’t think so and I believe most Americans would agree.

Credit goes to President Trump, the first American easy vegan recipes for college students president who made it a point and took up the issue to make our annual $500 billion trade deficit with China totally unacceptable.

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Kimberly Reed, Chairman and CEO of the EXIM Bank also deserves credit. Chairman Reed has been promoting American companies and exports since the day she was sworn in as the head of the EXIM bank.

Why didn’t we negotiate a better trade deal with China years ago?

Failure to do so was a foreign policy and national security failure by our country.

This coronavirus pandemic will make our government, as well as many American companies, rethink the China supply chain issue.

As a nation, is it in our strategic interests to import 80 percent of our pharmaceutical ingredients from China? No.

Should we be relying on China to manufacture the bulk of medical equipment such as masks and gloves used by America’s medical professionals? No.

Recently China issued an order prohibiting the exportation of such equipment globally but made exceptions for countries it considers friendly.

This better be a wakeup call to our nation about who China really is.

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As head of the banking association in our nation’s third-largest state Florida and as a member of the EXIM Bank Advisory Committee I know first-hand that our country is in a global competition with China.

It is my hope, and the hope of many, that American companies will reevaluate the risks and benefits of having manufacturing plants in China. While China is a country of 1.4 billion people and labor costs are cheaper there, the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that other costs far outweigh the benefits of cheap labor.

The environmental, health, sanitary, and human labor issues (many Chinese factories still employ children, an issue many prefer to avoid discussing) make keeping a manufacturing plant in China impractical, unfeasible and unrealistic.

There are too many risks to operating in China that far outweigh the cheap labor there. Plus, I would rather have American made products that are better quality and last longer than those made in China.

Even if U.S. companies that manufacture in China decide not to return to the United States, other countries should be considered for manufacturing hubs, such as Mexico, the nation of Central America and other countries—many in our own hemisphere.

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Finally, after our country returns to the “new normal” we, the American consumer, will have to make a paradigm shift in our pricing expectations on consumer goods we buy.

“Made in China” means cheap and readily available but at what cost to our nation’s interests?

I think this pandemic has answered many of those questions that time and cheap prices of Chinese made goods may lure us into forgetting; but this pandemic will be etched in our minds for generations.

We will never forget how this pandemic started and the irresponsibility China demonstrated when it failed to disclose to the rest of the world the seriousness of the virus when it first became aware of it in late 2019.

As American consumers, we need to transition to products Made in the USA or made in other friendly countries and move away from the “Made in China” label.

Once that occurs, China will receive the message that the world will neither tolerate nor accept the secretive and win-at-all-cost mentality of their communist-led government.

Alex Sanchez is President and CEO of the Florida Bankers Association and serves on the EXIM Bank Advisory Committee.

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