Local exporter watching Trump's moves

By John Maslin

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President-elect Donald Trump has been giving a warning by Whanganui businessman David Bennett - his promise of bringing backs jobs made be hard to deliver.
President-elect Donald Trump has been giving a warning by Whanganui businessman David Bennett - his promise of bringing backs jobs made be hard to deliver.

The head of a Whanganui exporting manufacturer says that unless US president-elect Donald Trump "pulls some rabbits out of the hat very quickly" his supporters won't be too happy within a few years.

David Bennett is chief executive officer of Pacific Helmets, a local company that makes and sells safety helmets around the world and he said it will be interesting to watch how the Mr Trump manages what he has promised.

"With many of his country's industries now located overseas, it's hard to imagine that they will willingly relocate back to the US in a hurry," he said.

Mr Bennett steels mills were a case in point and people need to remember China had bought most of the US steels mills.

"They broke them down and rebuilt them in China because it was less costly and took less time than building a brand new mill in China. I always pondered the sense of that let alone the strategic risk of not being able to manufacture your own steel in the event that the country needed more tanks for a war."

He said another factor was the obvious differences in the economics of wages and conditions.

"There are no trade unions in China, and the Auto Workers Union virtually bankrupted the motor industry in the US.

"I can't imagine Apple moving iPhone production to the USA, if it's ever been there to start with. Assuming he puts a tariff on Chinese-made electronics then US consumers will pay more and purchase less so China will retaliate."

Mr Bennett said some US helmet manufacturers moved production to Mexico 20 years ago although some continued production in mainland USA.

"As far as I am aware our US distributors don't pay duty on helmets we send there so the question is will Trump change that?"

However, he said if Mr Trump managed to deliver on his promises then New Zealand exporters may benefit in other ways with a strengthening in the value of the US dollar.

"A strong US dollar means when we convert to the Kiwi dollar we get more NZ dollars except when we pay for things in US currency," he said.

"But I suspect that unless he can pull some rabbits out of the hat quickly, the people who voted for him will be very grumpy in four years."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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