Trade Tensions: Michigan business community hopes for US-China deal

World Today

Trade Tensions: Michigan business community hopes for US-China deal

Uncertainty over a U.S.-China trade deal including its timing and implementation is leaving businesses on each side of the Pacific concerned about the future.

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.

A busy afternoon on the Fuyao production line. The world’s largest automotive glass manufacturer moved into its Plymouth, Michigan warehouse in 2017. But now, the Chinese company is now eyeing expansion.

The company represents just a small part of the $4 billion invested by some of the more than 300 Chinese companies in the state.

“What we focused on is becoming one team and one direction,” Fuyao VP of Manufacturing Jim Byrd explained. “Working with each other and understanding that there’s going to be learning curves, and understanding how it is done in America and how it is done in China. We complement each other so well, because no one has all the answers. Collectively, we have all the answers.”

Those close business ties were emphasized at this past weekend’s Detroit Chinese Business Association New Year event.  The gala dinner celebrates the business that has been developed between China and Michigan over the years. That relationship has been put to the test recently, amid the trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

Scanny Cai is the vice president of strategic planning at BMTS Technology, a Chinese company that manufactures turbochargers. He’s hopeful the trade dispute will be resolved soon and bring certainty to the auto industry.

“I think the challenge is for our supply chain,” he said. “For this turbo charger, you have to deal with 16-17 components. And these components are from everywhere.  For a car we are talking a minimum five thousand components.  So I think if there is a mutual benefit trade agreement being reached, that’s a positive for all players in the value chain.”

Jeff Mason, president & CEO of Michigan’s Economic Development Corporation, reflects this optimism.

“What we try to do in Michigan is really look at the long view. What might happen this year or last year or next year,” according to Mason. “We are in this for the long haul. We are about building economies for decades, centuries. We are going to continue those relationships and build upon them in 2019, maybe we can approach $5 billion worth of investment from China in Michigan.”

Michigan is far away from the high-level trade talks in Washington, but business leaders here know the supply chains are intertwined, and a lot is riding on what happens between China and the U.S. in the coming months.