Small businesses are warily watching to see how the effects of international trade wars will affect them. Will they have to massage their own practices to compete with a new set of trade realities? With steel, for instance, being one of the topics for international wrangling, might a producer of steel barbed wire have to rise to stay even?
Government agencies involved in international trade issues are suggesting that small businesses:
Stay Informed. Not being prepared for the upshot of the disputes could be fatal. Even if a small company does not import raw materials or machinery from China, for example, they could be affected by suppliers down the line who do. The U.S. has published a list of some 1,300 products that could be affected by tariffs. If any of those products are used by small businesses in the United States, they need to be aware.
Look for Alternatives. Small companies may not be able to maintain global supplier networks, but they can look for other way to cultivate relationships in Asian markets. A consultant may be available to guide you through the intricacies of the current markets so you have more than one source to obtain imported items.
Create Ties to Larger Partners: Small companies that are part of larger supply chains have a better chance of getting to multinational companies to purchase raw materials and survive trade disruptions. When then-President George W. Bush imposed tariffs on steel imports in 2002, that’s how some small businesses absorbed the shock. The large auto companies now use their purchasing power to negotiate long-term steel prices and pass the benefit on to suppliers.
Use the Loopholes: If a small business hasn’t been able to find the type of steel it needs in the United States, it can petition for an exemption from tariffs. There is a process to request an exclusion from steel and aluminum tariffs.