May 17, 2020

GM fit to handle supply chain disaster

General Motors
Car Manufacturer
American Cars
Freddie Pierce
2 min
General Motors expected to surpass Toyota as the world’s best-selling carmaker, thanks to its newfound supply chain agility
For all the headlines Japanese car manufacturers have received since the earthquake and tsunami hit in March, the effects on American carmakers havent...

For all the headlines Japanese car manufacturers have received since the earthquake and tsunami hit in March, the effects on American carmakers haven’t been measured nearly as thoroughly.

Jonathan Oosting with tackled that topic in a piece this week, using General Motors as his example.

While Toyota and Honda have experienced shortages and labor deficiencies, American car manufacturers like General Motors source parts from Japan and other areas where part availability has been affected.

The message of the article is pretty clear, and I’ll agree with it. It’s pretty remarkable how General Motors has gone from an automobile giant to a more agile company in the span of a few years.


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The New York Times published an article over last weekend, titled “Piecing Together a Supply Chain,” which went into the details on how General Motors is coping with the company’s latest crisis.

Packing engineers into two conference rooms and a basement, General Motors coordinated the disaster with maps and dry-erase boards, using a color coding system for the 118 affected part suppliers.

Sounds simplistic and elementary, but it’s working. General Motors has found replacements for all but five of the 118 parts, further changing its company image from a large, inflexible company to a more nimble one.

Less than two years after filing for bankruptcy, GM’s experience in operating in crisis mode has paid off. General Motors has survived, and with Japan’s shortages following the disaster, GM is expected to overtake Toyota as the world’s best-selling car manufacturer.

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Jun 16, 2021

EU and US agree end to Airbus-Boeing supply chain tariffs

3 min
Supply chains embroiled in Airbus-Boeing dispute will no longer be impacted by $11.5bn tariffs imposed on food and beverage, aircraft and tobacco

The EU and US have agreed to resolve a 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies, suspending tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of goods that have plagued procurement leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Under an agreement reached by European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Tuesday, the tariffs will be halted for a period of at least five years. 

It will bring an end to punitive and disruptive levies on supply chains that have little to do with the argument, which became embroiled in the trade battle. Businesses on both sides of the dispute have been hit with more than $3.3bn in duties since they were first imposed by the US in October 2019, according the EC. 

The US imposed charges on goods upto $7.5bn in response to a World Trade Organisation ruling that judged the EU’s support of Airbus, its biggest aircraft manufacturer, unlawful. A year later in November 2020, the EU hit back. The WTO found the US had violated trade rules in its favourable treatment of Boeing, and was hit with EU duties worth $4bn. 

In all the tariffs affected $11.5bn worth of goods, including French cheese, Scotch whisky, aircraft and machinery in Europe, and sugarcane products, handbags and tobacco in America. Procurement leaders on both sides of the fence were forced to wrestle with tariffs of 15% on aircraft and components, and 25% on non-aircraft related products. 

Boeing-Airbus dispute by the numbers  

  • The dispute began in 2004
  • Tariffs suspended for 5 years 
  • $11.5bn worth of goods affected by tariffs
  • $3.3bn in duties paid by businesses to date 
  • 15% levy on aircraft and 25% on non-aircraft goods suspended

Both sides welcome end to tariffs 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen branded the truce a “major step” in ending what is the longest running dispute in WTO history. It began in 2004.

“I am happy to see that after intensive work between the European Commission and the US administration, our transatlantic partnership is on its way to reaching cruising speed. This shows the new spirit of cooperation between the EU and the US and that we can solve the other issues to our mutual benefit,” she added.

Both aircraft manufacturers have welcomed the news. Airbus said in a statement that it will hopefully bring to an end the “lose-lose tariffs” that are affecting industries already facing “many challenges”. Boeing added that it will “fully support the U.S. Government’s efforts to ensure that the principles in this understanding are respected”. 

The US aerospace firm added: "The understanding reached today commits the EU to addressing launch aid, and leaves in place the necessary rules to ensure that the EU and United States live up to that commitment, without requiring further WTO action."

This week’s decision expands upon a short-term tariff truce announced in March this year. The EC says it will work closely with the US to try and further resolve the dispute, establishing a Working Group on Large Civil Aircraft led by each side’s trade minister.

Airbus last month signalled to suppliers that post-pandemic recovery was on the horizon, telling them to scale up to meet a return to pre-COVID manufacturing levels. “The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” said Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury, adding that suppliers should prepare for a period of intensive production “when market conditions call for it.”

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