The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) hosted a policy panel discussion, “Trade Tariffs and the Supply Chain: An In-Depth Look into How New Trade Policies Will Impact the Motor Vehicle Supplier Industry,” on October 24 at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The discussion, meant to be a frank and informal exploration of the challenges that suppliers face today in a new trade environment, included Ramzi Hermiz, CEO of Shiloh Industries Inc. and Board Member of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, a division of MEMA. MEMA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Ann Wilson led the conversation.
Tackling a broad range of issues, including steel and aluminum tariffs, tariffs on imports from China, the newly drafted United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), potential tariffs on autos and auto parts, and the threat of flatlining of fuel efficiency standards, Hermiz and Wilson outlined what suppliers need from the Trump administration to adapt to so many changes occurring so quickly. In addition to saying that they support the Trump administration’s goals and objectives, they made the case for flexibility and more time to allow the supply chain to adjust.
“It will be difficult to get these new regulations and policies aligned,” Hermiz said to a standing-room-only audience. “It won’t happen overnight. But we have a clear path toward what we need to achieve. We are starting to see action from both sides and we should be rewarding that action, not holding tariffs as a veil of threat.”
“This is more about clarity than conclusion,” Hermiz added. “If we know what we’re trying to achieve we can get there. We just need time.”
Calling for “a place to pivot” and “room to move,” Hermiz explained that suppliers are not asking that tariffs “go away,” but that steps are needed to help companies remain competitive and cope with the challenges, including programs to help with workforce development.
The event was attended by industry leaders, government officials, and members of the media. The event is part of MEMA’s Policy Breakfast Series, launched in 2017, which aims to highlight and explain the complexities of critical issues that affect the motor vehicle supplier industry, such as tax reform, trade policies, workforce development, and intellectual property.