By Brook Larmer
To offset the conflict’s negative impact, Beijing has slashed tariffs to Asian countries, a reminder, it seems, that China will remain the lone superpower in Asia long after the trade war is over. This appeal, however, may not stop the flow of manufacturers out of China to Southeast Asia. The American shoe-and-accessory maker Steve Madden, for example, is shifting its handbag production from China to Cambodia — 15 percent this year, 30 percent in 2019. (A U.S. Fashion Industry Association study released in July showed that two-thirds of all textile companies are expected to lower production in China over the next two years, citing United States trade protectionism as the top challenge.) Moving production to a new location is expensive and complicated. Given the mercurial man behind the trade war, and the chaotic churn of American politics, some executives are holding fast in hopes that it will all go away. But as new tariffs loom for another $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, with 6,031 products on its target list, the trade war no longer looks like a short-term crisis.
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