(3) Up to Mountains, Down to Villages – Third Parties Profit

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Jul 25, 2019 01:42
Several weeks ago, I went to a small town that had a food company called Mr. Man’s, whose main product is tofu-based snacks. I knew this company because I grew up eating its snacks. Its products can be found in nearly every local supermarket here.

When I was there, I heard an interesting story about the company. Mr. Man’s was seeking a tax cut from the government because it now faced a challenge – the price of soybeans was shooting up. The main drive for the price hike was the Sino-US trade war. China slapped high duties on imported American produce as retaliation against Trump’s tariffs.

Until recently, I hadn’t known the company’s main soybean source was the US. Each year the company imports a large quantity of beans from the Midwestern US and makes them into tofu. Before that I hadn’t realized I’d been eating American food for many years! :-) Now the tofu maker is trying to find international substitutes for the US, and Brazil is said to be the biggest beneficiary. Funnily enough, they say the imports from Brazil are in fact grown in the US -- the former is merely a middleman. On the reverse, it’s reported that many goods labeled “made in Vietnam” and shipped to the US are actually made in China. In both cases, third parties are the ones who profit.

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By the way, when in the US last week, I still found many goods “made in China.” Since the trade war has been going on for a not-too-short period of time, I wonder whether the effects of the high tariffs have manifested yet.

[Revised]