Commentary: From soybeans to supply chains — here’s how the trade dispute affects all of Utah

By Miles Hansen | For The Tribune
Published September 2, 2018


As one of Utah’s newest residents, I am energized by the hive of activity here in the Beehive State. Thanks to Gov. Gary Herbert’s leadership and the ingenuity of Utah’s business leaders and workforce, Utah’s economy is prospering with record low unemployment, rapidly rising wages and one of the fastest growth rates in the country.

Perhaps most importantly, strong economic fundamentals, innovative capital investments — like the Inland Port — and the wise stewardship of stakeholders across the state suggest that Utah is using the boom of the moment to prepare for the economic downturn that — thanks to the ups and downs of the business cycle — inevitably lies ahead. We aren’t experiencing a superficial, bubbling boom with an impending burst; Utah’s growth is deep and enduring. If Utah were a stock, we would all do well to buy as much as possible.

As I meet business leaders across the state to strategize how to help Utah businesses compete and win in the global marketplace, I’m impressed by the grit and swagger with which they ply their trade. Mel Torrie, CEO of Cache Valley-based Autonomous Solutions, speaks of global domination as he and his team of nearly 100 researchers pioneer cutting-edge, deep technology in autonomous industrial machinery and ink deals around the world with global leaders in mining, agriculture and transportation. And Silicon Slopes is full of tech giants, unicorns and startups each driven to revolutionize their market. It’s an exciting time to be in Utah, and the future is bright.

There is, however, a cloud descending on many Utah companies as they grapple with the real costs and uncertainties that come with the ongoing trade dispute. Tariffs are putting Utah companies at a disadvantage and shifting global supply chains as international customers begin purchasing from non-U.S. competitors.

Just ask Sunny Sanyal of Utah-based Varex Imaging Corporation, which employs more than 1,000 Utahns in delivering image processing solutions around the world. Eighty percent of Varex Imaging’s business originates outside the United States, generating revenue that Varex Imaging then spends in the United States to the tune of $300 million a year with about $60 million going to other Utah-based companies…

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Miles Hansen is the new president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah. Hansen is a Utah native who joins WTC Utah after serving as the director for Gulf Affairs at the National Security Council in the White House.