Trade wars threaten to disrupt American firms’ global supply chains

“DON’T panic yet,” advises the sandwich king of Ohio. Robert Grote is chief executive of JE Grote Company, a family-run firm in Columbus that is a global manufacturer of pizza-preparation machines, bacon-slicers and automated sandwich-makers. Since about half of its $60m or so of annual sales comes from outside America and his firm buys speciality steel from Europe, he is closely following President Donald Trump’s recent efforts to upend the global trading order. Though European executives he knows are alarmed, he says his American peers believe Mr Trump’s threats are probably negotiating tactics and are willing to “let it play out”.

Mr Grote’s relaxed stance might seem reasonable. The Trump administration first caused shock waves on March 8th by unveiling a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminium, but quickly granted temporary exemptions to countries responsible for most of America’s imports of those metals. These exemptions were due to expire…Continue reading

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