When small businesses are casualties of the trade war

Company’s claim of hardship gets little sympathy

I have no idea whether the trade war with China and the imposition of tariffs will be beneficial in the end to the United States or its workforce. However, I disagree with Jeff Greenstein on several fronts (“The trade war with China has hurt my small business in Massachusetts,” Opinion, Feb. 10).

He writes that “because of a sophisticated manufacturing process,” his bike accessory products “are built in China.” He adds that “the United States doesn’t have the raw materials or the skilled labor to build them.” The United States and its workforce manufacture some of the most sophisticated items in the world, including semiconductors, satellites, fighter jets, rockets, and so on, and these require extremely sophisticated manufacturing processes. I believe the labor force in this country is still the most skilled labor force in the world.


It’s unfortunate that Greenstein’s company is being affected, but perhaps some additional contingency planning may have helped mitigate his current margin issues.

Paul Daigle


Decades of poor policies have brought us to this situation

Jeff Greenstein makes questionable statements when complaining about the China trade war and its effect on his business. His business, Delta Cycle, sells small, low-tech mechanical products that stretch the term “innovative.” The “sophisticated manufacturing process” to make these items that he claims exists only in China is at best what is called “light assembly,” usually done by semiskilled workers.

The claim that “the United States doesn’t have the raw materials or the skilled labor force to build them” is odd, since the Boston area has metals and plastics suppliers as well as available semiskilled labor. I think that the innovation that is needed in this case is to develop alternate sources in the United States.

Finally, although it is President Trump’s trade war, the poor policies that led to the need for action on China trade have been encouraged by both political parties for more than 20 years, and complaining on the Opinion page will not solve Delta Cycle’s problems.


Ed Wojtaszek


Stress and turmoil for US firms and workers, with no end in sight

The opinion piece by Jeff Greenstein resonated strongly with me as a small-business owner. I own a customs brokerage firm, and, like other companies in the logistics industry, we have felt the negative impact of tariffs on products from China and other countries.

Our clients are importing fewer shipments because they can’t afford the impact on their bottom line when they’re forced to absorb extra costs or pass them on to their customers. Some are contractually bound to agreed-upon pricing, regardless of duty increases, leaving them no choice but to absorb the cost and then reduce work hours or staffing. These are American workers who are being negatively affected by the tariffs, with no end in sight.

The recent so-called deal touted by the Trump administration as phase one of negotiations led to a minor decrease in duty from 15 percent to 7.5 percent on one of four lists of products currently subject to tariff increases. The other lists remain in place at a more punitive 25 percent duty rate, with no indication of when, or if, that will change. Those lists cover manufacturing components, not consumer goods, so their impact is not felt as rapidly as items on the fourth list — an interesting point, given that this is an election year.

During 33 years of business, I have never experienced the turmoil and stress, both financial and emotional, that have become the norm in the import industry. Regulations and rates change with a tweet, leaving customs and the import community scrambling to keep up, while supply chains built over many years struggle to keep the flow of commerce going at reasonable pricing.


Ellen Schwartz

T. H. Weiss Inc.

East Boston

Tariff program threatens small firms’ survival

Kudos to Jeff Greenstein for his comments about the problems that small businesses face because of the 2018 China tariffs.

I am a small-business owner relying by necessity on Chinese manufacturing and employing 10 US employees in Cambridge, and these tariffs devastated my company’s bottom line last year. The impact continues into 2020.

I take little comfort in reading that I am not alone. A tariff program like this threatens the very survival of many small businesses, and there is no easy way out for us. Passing costs on to the customer is not a viable option.

Government agencies that are meant to offer some relief aren’t easily accessible for many small companies like ours, which is especially disappointing given the collective impact on the lives of our employees and on our nation’s economy.

Paul Morris

Global Light Co.


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