Some local manufacturing leaders have signaled that they are cautiously optimistic about the potential to rework the free trade deals that some call “one-sided” to the better benefit of U.S. manufacturers. Bill Stern, a longtime director of the State Ports Authority (SPA) and a regional campaign director for President-Elect Trump, says that the President-Elects’ opposition to current free trade deals could be a boon to the Port of Charleston and the South Carolina economy. He told the Post & Courier that he is “excited about it.” Other local manufacturers are more measured in their response about the impact of new trade agreements on the economy, or are not publically reacting to Trump’s trade strategy.
Boeing Co., which makes the 787 Dreamliner plane, released a statement saying it hopes the new administration will “ensure that U.S. companies can compete, win and grow our economy to provide good jobs to U.S. workers, as well as preserve American leadership in national security.” Volvo, which is building a $500 million manufacturing facility in Berkeley County, remained noncommittal, as did Jim Newsome, SPA’s president and CEO. Newsome said he would not be able to comment about Trump’s trade strategies until after he takes office. Bill Stern, who is also on the SPA’s board of directors since 2001, including eight years as chairman, believes that “you’ll see fairer trade agreements, and the ones that don’t benefit the United States, I think you’ll see Donald Trump try to rework those.”
President-Elect Trump (www.donaldtrump.com) favors the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement with the Pacific Rim countries that has yet to be ratified, and wants to withdraw or renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to help bring manufacturing and American jobs back to the United States. He also wants to label China as a currency manipulator and to prevent its efforts to circumvent trade laws.
Mark Witte, a College of Charleston economist told the Post & Courier that the local economy and Port of Charleston will remain “fairly stable even if there are some reductions in global trade.” The port will have a competitive edge since plans are underway to dredge the Charleston Harbor to 50 feet, to enable larger Panamax ships to enter the port 24 hours a day, rather than only at high tide.
Source: Post & Courier, “Some Manufacturing Leaders Hopeful, others Silent on Trade Policies” by David Wren, November 10, 2016
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