Why US factories won’t leave Asia

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President Donald Trump likes to brag that he is bringing manufacturing back to the United States. And indeed, with global trade slowing, the planet-spanning supply chains that have symbolised modern economic globalisation do appear to be contracting. But do not be too quick to dismiss the idea of "borderless" production as a 1990s fluke.

Even if their reach is more limited than before, far-flung supply chains are almost certain to remain a fact of global manufacturing. There are simply too many incentives for companies to continue to produce and source in every corner of the globe - from the abundance of cheaper workers to technological capabilities to changing patterns of consumer spending.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2019, with the headline Why US factories won't leave Asia. Subscribe