By Chris Cox, JD

Trade wars and a global pandemic have caused businesses to reconsider buying foreign goods and services. For example, businesses that bought foreign equipment are now facing the risk of being unable to get vital spare parts and the service necessary to keep that equipment running. As global supply chain disruptions mount, many businesses now consider “Buy American” not just as a patriotic slogan but also a smart business decision.

The slogan “Buy American” has been used for nearly 90 years to encourage Americans to buy U.S.-made products. “Buy American” was introduced in 1933 as the United States tried to stimulate economic activity during the depths of the Great Depression. The Buy American Act, which was signed into law on March 3, 1933, required the United States Government to give preference to products made in the USA when making purchases. The slogan has remained popular: on April 18, 2017 President Trump issued a “Buy American Hire American” Executive Order* emphasizing the importance of buying American-made goods:

In order to promote economic and national security and to help stimulate economic growth, create good jobs at decent wages, strengthen our middle class, and support the American manufacturing and defense industrial bases, it shall be the policy of the executive branch to maximize, consistent with law, through terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements, the use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States.

Despite the popularity of this patriotic slogan, the United States has consistently imported billions of dollars of goods every year. According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the United States imported $539.5 Billion in goods from China in 2018. These imports include roll formers, folders, and other equipment used in the metal fabrication industry. However, trade wars and especially the Coronavirus pandemic have exposed the potential risks associated with purchasing foreign-made equipment:

  • Vital spare parts may be delayed or even unavailable because of plant shutdowns and international shipping
    and U.S. Customs restrictions.
  • Service technicians may be unavailable because
    of travel restrictions.
  • Tariffs may make vital spare parts prohibitively
    expensive or unavailable.

Businesses that purchase American-made equipment do not face the risks of international shipping delays, U.S. Customs, travel bans, and tariffs. If American-made equipment breaks down, U.S.-based service technicians and spare parts should be available to get that equipment operating again quickly. In fact, many parts on American-made equipment may be “off the shelf” items that the equipment owner can source locally. Lastly, buying American-made equipment helps “to stimulate economic growth, create good jobs at decent wages, strengthen the American middle class, and supports American manufacturing….”

These benefits are more important than ever as we rebuild an American economy devastated by the Coronavirus. RF

Chris Cox is the Southeast Sales Executive for ASC Machine Tools, Inc., a business that has been designing and manufacturing roll-forming and metal fabrication equipment in the USA since 1949.

*The Executive Order can be found at this website:

[Editor’s Note: Rollforming Magazine will consider publication of articles or letters of opposing views that meet our editorial standards. Contact [email protected].]

Originally published as “Buy American” Spring 2020 issue Rollforming Magazine.