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Trump Ordered U.S. Companies to Leave China. This Is Why They Can’t.

Trump Ordered U.S. Companies to Leave China. This Is Why They Can’t.

Others have sharply cut back their operations as the Chinese economy has slowed. Ford, for example, has seen its car sales in China wither and has responded by laying off thousands of contract workers.

Still, relations between China and the United States may improve someday, perhaps after Mr. Trump leaves office. If that happens, companies that have moved their supply chains could find themselves at a competitive disadvantage compared to those that have stayed in China.

Different industries face different dilemmas. Low-wage, low-skill industries like shoe manufacturing, toymaking and apparel production have already shifted toward Southeast Asia or places like India or Bangladesh, because blue-collar wages in China have soared eightfold in dollar terms over the past 15 years.

Other sectors, notably electronics, are finding it more difficult to cut ties. China dominates production of a vast array of components, with multiple companies bidding aggressively to supply practically anything a company might want.

Even Vietnam, despite its proximity to China and the strong presence of electronics giants like Samsung, does not yet have a well-developed supply chain for electronics.

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Travelogue: Memories of six days across three African nations

Travelogue: Memories of six days across three African nations

Hong Kong: Petrol bombs, bricks and tear gas thrown as chaos returns to anti-government protests

Hong Kong: Petrol bombs, bricks and tear gas thrown as chaos returns to anti-government protests