Biggest Challenge to Raw Material Supply Chain: Uncertainty

Biggest Challenge to Raw Material Supply Chain: Uncertainty

This piece was originally published in the December 2018 issue of electroindustry.

NEMA Board of Governors Member Greg Scheu, President, Americas Region, ABB Inc., makes a point during the panel discussion on the “State of the Raw Material Supply Chain.” 

To frame the panel discussion on the “State of the Raw Material Supply Chain,” Alan Price, a partner with Wiley Rein LLP, quoted Dennis Shea, U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization. “In my view,” Mr. Shea said, “the discussion of WTO reform would not have happened but for the disruptively constructive leadership of the United States.”

Mr. Rein laid out three pillars to the disruptive nature of the Trump Administration trade agenda strategy:

  • Unilateral action: to remedy certain intractable problems where years of negotiations have failed
  • Bilateral negotiations: unilateral action is being used as leverage in bilateral negotiations to force changes to trade behavior
  • Multilateral disruption: unilateral action and bilateral negotiation are unfolding in the context of ambivalence to the multilateral system, which may not survive in its current form

Providing insights from their individual companies were panelists Steve Higgins, president, Freeport McMoRan Sales Company, Inc.; Charlie Murrah, president, Power Systems & Solutions Group, Southwire Company; and Greg Scheu, president, ABB Inc.

The panelists discussed their companies’ products, which include aluminum, cobalt, copper, and steel. The dialogue focused on sourcing; tariffs and regulation, specifically Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962; the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Section 301 investigation report of China’s acts, policies, and practices; and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) Reform.

According to the panel members, the biggest challenge is uncertainty, especially not knowing what the rules will be.

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