Corporations plan to maneuver provide chains additional out of China beneath Biden or Trump, says PwC exec
According to Tim Ryan, chairman of PwC USA, companies plan to continue moving supply chains out of China, regardless of who wins the November 3rd presidential election.
The issue was brought to the fore in response to President Donald Trump's trade war with China, but has only gained prominence across America due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ryan said in a "Closing Bell" interview based on results from a recent one from the powerhouse auditing company.
"Covid has really put the spotlight on supply chain risk … and one of the things we are seeing is that the supply chain untying has gotten to the boardroom level as we now may not see concentrations in our supply chains before proven, "said Ryan.
The beneficiaries of exits from China, home to the world's second largest economy, are likely to be countries in Southeast Asia, Mexico and the United States, according to Ryan.
In PwC's survey of 578 US executives, published last month, measures were taken to boost American manufacturing. About 46% of those polled "strongly" agreed that the government should boost the production of essential products in the US to support the country's economy.
In particular, the production of medical devices and pharmaceutical products outside of the United States was re-examined during the pandemic as factories closed and supply shortages around the world. The combination of the trade war and pandemic showed retailers had also "relied too much" on manufacturing in China, Terry Lundgren, former CEO of Macy, told CNBC earlier this year.
Trump's trade war with China resulted in each side placing billions of dollars in tariffs on the other side's goods, motivating some companies to relocate their supply chains. In fact, Trump has repeatedly urged companies to do just that.
Some efforts to relocate production to new countries have been hampered by the global health crisis. Such is the case for the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner maker, which is moving production to Malaysia to get around the tariffs.
"We were hoping to have it ready by the end of this year," said Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot, on "Closing Bell" on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, the pandemic has slowed our ability to move to Malaysia. So this will be in  before we make it."
According to Ryan, PwC's poll found that slightly more executives were concerned about trade tensions with China under Trump than under Biden. However, nearly 30% of respondents said they "strongly agree" that trade restrictions on China will be tightened, regardless of who wins.
Biden, the former Vice President under President Barack Obama, currently leads Trump by 7.9 percentage points on an average of national polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.
"I see the relationship between China and the US is still very important. It's an important market and that's why we see investment there," said Ryan. "But in relative terms, we see US companies planning to take this further, and this is a trend that has been going on for a few years and that we are likely to continue."
Another finding from PwC's survey is that regardless of the election result, 70% of business leaders expect corporate taxes to rise to pay the trillions of dollars in coronavirus stimuli. Trump's signature tax law lowered the tax rate from 35% to 21%. Biden has called for an increase to 28%.
"One of the careful things that we have to balance clearly here is that we have to make sure that we pay for the incentive. We clearly have to make sure that we don't leave people behind, but we can do it too. Don't lose US competitiveness -Business, because that means jobs, "said Ryan.