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Steve Wybo: As possible trade rule changes loom, auto supply companies take wait-and-see approach – Crain’s Detroit Business

Crain’s Detroit Business features Steve Wybo in its article titled “As possible trade rule changes loom, auto supply companies take wait-and-see approach.”

Steve Wybo, senior managing director at Birmingham-based advisory firm Conway MacKenzie Inc., said two current clients prepared to invest significantly in Mexico have suspended those plans for the first hundred days of Trump’s presidency.

Wybo is representing a stamping company generating more than $300 million in revenue and a midsize plastic molding supplier. The stamper had planned to double the size of its production plant in Mexico to support its customers, but can’t afford the risk with tariffs designed to punish importers to the U.S. on the president’s agenda. “Right now, we’re all pausing on Mexico,” Wybo said. “It’s safe to say everyone is advising the same thing: to wait and see.”

Trump has said he wants a plan to punish importers, taking aim at automakers who produce in Mexico and import to the U.S. market. During his presidential campaign, he threatened a 35 percent tariff on auto imports. Since his win in November, Detroit’s automakers have collectively announced nearly $3 billion in U.S. investment and the promise to create thousands of jobs. Experts, like Wybo, believe Trump’s attacks had little to do with the announcements and market conditions were the deciding factor.

Wybo believes the concern will be short-lived and that Trump and Congress won’t come to an easy agreement — and other political hot-button issues will distract the trade talks.

“I don’t see trade unwinding; Trump will pick up another win or two, tweet about it and move on,” Wybo said. “The supply chain is not going to change course, in my opinion, because of politics.”

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