The Outlook For Moldmakers Hasnt Been Rosy

June 5, 2002
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ROSELLE, IL.—The latest business forecast released by the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) continued to paint a gloomy picture for the industry. At the same time, AMBA President Olav Bradley has promised to fight for fairer trade policies for the nation’s moldmakers.

The AMBA forecast, made public on May 31, revealed that business was good for only 22 percent of the firms that responded to the survey, while 62 percent reported that business was fair or poor. Another 12 percent said it was bad. Only four percent of the respondents said business was excellent.

The survey drew responses from 117 of the association’s 450 members.

Another finding showed that profits were down for 51 percent of the moldmakers. The reason? Most reported that there were fewer jobs up for bid so they had to cut their margins in their quotes.

Most of the competition was coming from other American firms, but some respondents reported that they lost jobs to Canadian and Asian competitors. The survey showed that 37 percent of that lost business went to Canadian companies, while another 18 percent was lost to moldmakers based in Asia.

Seventy-two percent of the companies reported that price was the main reason why they lost business to foreign competition, while 13 percent said it was leadtime. Of the business that was lost to Canadian and Asian firms, 85 percent said the job entailed building medium and large molds.

Almost all of the respondents, 97 percent, said they wanted the AMBA to become more involved with legislative issues that have an affect on the moldmaking industry. To that end, Bradley said the association would seek a change in the current U.S. trade policy.

“The current state of the moldmaking industry in the United State mirrors the state of manufacturing: Work is going to countries where products can be manufactured cheaper due to an oversupply of workers, low wages and few restrictions on plant conditions,” he said.

“The result is that every week we receive notices about AMBA members shops going out of business or being forced to sell their operations,” he added.

Specifically, Bradley is aiming his sights at a policy that favors China. In his message to AMBA members, Bradley asked why there is a 3.31 percent tariff on a $30,000 mold coming into this country while China gets to tack on a 12-percent Most Favored Nation rate and a Value Added Tax of 17 percent on molds imported from the U.S.?

“This 29 percent does not sound like fair trade,” he said. “With all the U.S. regulations, taxes, MFN and VAT added to their prices, it would be more difficult for China to quote prices one-third to half of U.S. mold prices. Then we would indeed have a more level playing field.”

Bradley called for Congress and President Bush to step forward to “help stem the tide of the outflow of manufacturing from the United States into countries in which trade is neither free or fair. He then called for shop owners to let their legislators know how they feel about the issue.

The AMBA is headquartered in Roselle, Ill., and represents most of the moldmakers in the Midwest with 450 member companies.

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