Having been graciously taken on a tour of Romanian factories to see the accomplishments of that Socialist country's machine-tool industry, I've had a grass-roots look at many sides of the US debate on Protectionism.
Vice President Bush and Commerce Secretary Baldrige had been there and told them the USA wants more trade with them. But no great rush of machine-tool orders followed.
They are the only Socialist country with most-favored-nation trading status. But if you order a huge CNC VBM with a 54-ft-dia table that takes a year to build, your delivery date may extend beyond the expiration date of the duty-free arrangement that might not be renewed.
Bush and Baldrige don't buy boring mills. Our free-enterprise companies do. Romanian machine-tool factories don't price and sell boring mills. Their Industrial Central does. Their factories don't compete with each other.
Their government is thereby our companies' competitors. Our companies must overcome our Government's obstacles.
Our machine-tool industry's show displays foreign-built machines next to domestic versions, while we petition for protection to limit their sales. USA builders become distributors for foreign machines, and foreign builders with plants on our shores join the association.
While a Romanian Minister refused to discuss with me their lack of a convertible (hard) currency, their men-on-the-street tried to buy dollars from me as a tourist at blackmarket rates. Kent Golds are good as gold.
We are told that General Electric sold them a nuclear power plant, but due to the lack of hard money were asked to take boring mills, hams and other goods in trade. A giant barter.
If their machine-tool labor rate is in fact a tenth of ours and their government is willing therefore to sell a boring mill to one of our companies at something less than the going price in the USA so they could get some much needed US dollars, why wouldn't the management of a free-enterprise company accept this gift from the people who send beautiful young gymnasts to the Olympics?
If we legislate to limit that, we will also have to decide who gets the limited supply.
I saw a good glimpse of the problems. Not much help with answers. Maybe Wendell Wilke was right. Make it one world.
Photo: Modern machine-tool factory in Suceava has open capacity. is making special machines for other machine-tool plants.
Photo: Stefan Radu (left), general manager of Tools Factory-Risnov modestly admits to making 50 million cutting tools per year on highly automated equipment (right). Some of his drill bits to go J C Penney stores.
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|Title Annotation:||View from the Top|
|Publication:||Tooling & Production|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1984|
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