Several local printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturers and national Republican officials met June 22 in suburban Chicago to demand sustained, targeted tariffs against China, which they claim will return thousands of jobs to the United States.
Staged at the Rana-Reagan Community Center in Carol Stream, Ill., the event was attended by about 350 residents, who heard speeches by Steve Bannon, former Trump Administration strategist; U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast; U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah); Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy; and other presenters; and also viewed video messages from former U.S. House Speaker Rep. Newt Gingrich and other analysts and experts.
"It's important for people to hear that China is not playing by the rules and destroying jobs by refusing to allow fair competition," stated Gingrich. "It's important for business people to be hard-nosed when foreign governments cut production costs on technology products to one-third, so others can't compete. This why we're asking everyone to reach out to their governmental representatives and insist that China not be allowed to cheat."
The event was presented by the Republican Hindu Coalition and the National Indian-American Public Policy Institute, both founded and supported by Shalli Kumar, who is also the founder of the AVG Group of Companies, including EZAutomation.
"The U.S. lost 3.54 million jobs during 2000-07, including 50,000 in the nearby Elk Grove Village industrial park," said Kumar. "This was the premeditated murder of U.S. jobs focused on PCB manufacturing and assembly. Part of AVG's business was in PCBs as the third-largest U.S. manufacturer and a top-20 assembler, employing thousands in our U.S. facilities. This center used to have 600 staff in 60,000 square feet, but there was no business after the Chinese invasion, so we donated it to the suburban Chicago's Hindu community. This is why we need sustained tariffs, but we also need them on finished goods, and not just on components. Tariffs could bring back 80% of the jobs we lost."
Kumar reported that China sold PCBs at one-third the cost of boards in the United States, which was less than the cost of materials. "For 20 years, the strategy of China's communist party has been de-industrializing our country with the help of Wall Street and London. Turning this around will be a long struggle that won't return jobs immediately, but it will succeed long-term if we force Wall Street and Washington to do it."
Vikram Kumar, CEO and chairman of AVG, added: "Lots of electronics are exported from China to the U.S., so if we had strong tariffs, hundreds of thousands of jobs could be brought back to the U.S. However, we need the right tariffs, not just on products, but on all components in the assembly process. Of course, AVG makes HMIs, PLCs and controls, so we know many of these tariffs would negatively affect us and our components, too. However, we committed long ago to not move our manufacturing and jobs to China, so even though our bills of materials (BOM) could go up 25% and it will be even harder for us to compete, we're still saying to go ahead with tariffs because they will bring back 200,000-300,000 jobs."
Get news like this in your inbox. Sign up for the Control Update newsletter.