This article is not a political swipe or should be viewed as advocating for one country over another. It’s simply some observations from a Canadian who perceives the US and others as going through change. It’s a plea to support entrepreneurs in recreating that spirit that made Canada and the US great countries.
The world has changed and geopolitics, national economies and the environment have altered the way we trade, work and live.
Given the choice most people would rather support their own country’s interest than buy from a foreign power. I come from a generation that saw Japan become an industrialized giant after WW2 to the point that comic relief was to point out any product in your home with a “Made in Japan” label.
I’m not sure products were cheaper because they were made in Japan but the country went the distance to commercialize its manufacturing expertise. China soon took over the moniker and became known as the "cheap" place to manufacture and to buy wholesale goods. China’s efficiencies, scale and inexpensive labor did open the world to its manufacturing that was second to none in price and volume.
Then an interesting thing happened; China’s manufacturing made a dramatic move. It became known more for its massive volume production than pricing. I was trying to broker 10 million light bulbs for a certain country and had a terrible time trying to find a manufacturer that could manage such an order. The US plants laughed at the monstrous volume and others suggested China.
Speaking to a plant in China, I confidently asked for a quote. The broker gave me a price that was similar to the US price for a much smaller volume. When asked the broker told me China was in a position to make competitive pricing to the US because no one could match their scale and volume of production. The 10 million light bulbs were just another order for this broker and it could be produced quickly. Volume was not a problem for a plant in China that was a mile long.
The Chinese problem is still cheaper products, but they are cheaply made on the backs of poorly paid indentured employees. Foreign trade has made China rich but not its people.
The US has more skilled jobs available than people to fill them. Universities have been turning out academics or people with soft skills rather than engineers and tradespersons for decades.
Trump hit a core issue with his slogan "Make America Great Again" yet there are many countries close behind in his mind-set. 63 million US voters were quick to jump on Trump’s slogan in part because, like the rest of us, we felt that we as nations had lost something. We have become nations of rampant consumers instead of builders.
Canada hasn’t a clue how to fix our issues except to pay billions in dollars of reparations for decades of abuse of its citizens. There’s no plan to make Canada Great Again, and our leaders continue to lack the direction we need.
This foreign trade issue with Mexico, Canada and the USA is so fundamental. Who knows if it has stalled or been enacted. It seems to be "Who cares?" Canada is so intrinsically tied into the US that it makes sense for both countries to make nice and carry on. We are so closely tied that if the US suffers so do we. When the US moves we follow, and if governments won’t lead, people will.
Entrepreneurs need to embrace the opportunity that is facing us. Foreign products are still, and will always be, inferior to what we can produce in North America. What we thought was lost to Japan, Korea and China has now opened a window for the US and Canada to take back our countries as manufacturers and not just importers.
Support needs to come from our governments to enable entrepreneurs to be self-starting, self-reliant and to start producing the products we know we can do better. Canada and the US were made off the backs of business startups, not the tech startups we see in the news every day. I’m talking about the mom and pop shops, the welder, the mechanic, the Massey Fergusons, the John Deeres and the millions of small businesses that were nation builders.
National spirit? We need all the "Make our Nation Great Again" slogans we can muster. I’ve seen beleaguered inventors trying to find money from Shark Tank investors, who told the sharks they wanted to make their products in America despite lower profits so they could support the American worker God Bless them! The sharks, of course, in inimitable style chorused, it’s about the money!
Nationalism? Free Trade? I’m willing to spend more money for better products manufactured in Canada and the USA. Let’s make them at home.
Keep your products China!
Gary is CEO of Bizzo Management Group Inc.and Bizzo Integrated Marketing Corp. in Vancouver. London-based Richtopia placed Bizzo on the Top 100 Global Influencers in the World for 2018. He is an Adjunct Professor of Integrated Marketing at the New York Institute of Technology, MBA School of Management (Vancouver Campus).
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