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Daniel Moss

Factories Have Fled to Vietnam, But May Not Escape Tariffs

Many U.S. companies heeded Trump’s call to disentangle their supply chains from China. They may regret that decision.

They’ve done the heavy lifting.

They’ve done the heavy lifting.

Photographer: HOANG DINH NAM/AFP

When Donald Trump urged U.S. manufacturers to move their supply chains out of China, many hustled to set up shop in Vietnam. Now the administration has labeled Vietnam a currency manipulator, and products made there could face tariffs all the same. It’s a rude reminder to companies that the effects of policy inconsistency could bleed into President-elect Joe Biden’s early months in office. U.S. allies, meanwhile, should learn that friendship will only go so far.

Consider Tapestry Inc., whose brands include Kate Spade New York and Coach. The company started moving some of its production out of China years ago, worried about being over-exposed to a single country. That put it ahead of the game when the trade war escalated.