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How Dozens of Nigerian Scammers Stole Millions from People, Businesses

For years, dozens of scammers from Nigeria and other countries swindled millions of dollars from U.S. businesses and individuals, funneling the stolen money through accounts provided by two fellow Nigerian “brokers” based in Los Angeles.

In the burgeoning underworld of online fraud, Nigerian nationals Velentine Iro and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe were well-known operators who went by a raft of pseudonyms, including “Iro Enterprises” and “Chris Kudon.”

Between 2014 and 2018, Iro and Igbokwe, working with nearly 80 other international swindlers, facilitated a series of schemes that resulted in the theft of at least $6 million and the attempted theft of $40 million more from victims in more than 10 countries, according to a 252-count federal indictment unsealed Thursday.

The scammers victimized individuals and small and large businesses. In targeting businesses, they used a tactic called “business email compromise,” also known as CEO fraud. Under that scheme, a fraudster gains access to a company’s computer system and then, posing as a company executive, tricks an employee into making an unauthorized wire transfer into a bank account the fraudster controls.

Federal agents hold a detainee, second from left, in downtown Los Angeles after predawn raids that saw dozens of people arrested in the L.A. area, Aug. 22, 2019, Most of the defendants are Nigerian nationals.

The victims

The indictment documents several corporate victims.

In 2014, a San Diego clothing distributor wired nearly $46,000 into a bank account controlled by one of the scammers, believing it was paying a Chinese vendor for an order of men’s shirts.

In 2016, an unidentified Texas company was tricked into wiring $187,000 into a fraudulent account. The company thought it was making a payment for an oil extraction equipment order.

The conspiracy also targeted the elderly and victims of so-called romance scams.

For example, in 2016 a Japanese woman, identified in court documents as F.K., lost more than $200,000 during a 10-month romance scam with a fraudster who impersonated a U.S. Army captain stationed in Syria.

In 2017, an 86-year-old man with dementia and Alzheimer’s wired nearly $12,000 to a bank account controlled by one of the fraudsters.

The Justice Department unsealed the indictment after the arrest of 14 people, including Iro and Igbokwe, early Thursday. Three others were already in custody. Six defendants remain at large in the United States, while authorities are working with partners in nine other countries to arrest 57 others, most of whom are believed to be in Nigeria.

Nigerian statement

In a statement, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission Chief, urged “those accused in Nigeria to voluntarily turn themselves in to American authorities to clear their names.” She added that Nigeria should extradite the defendants “if relevant international treaties between the two governments are invoked.”

Citing a Justice Department policy, a department spokeswoman declined to say whether the U.S. has made an extradition request. Since 2014, Nigeria has extradited three people wanted in the United States.

While the sheer number of defendants named in the indictment is extraordinary in an online fraud case, the investigation also shed light on the evolving tactics and growing sophistication of scammers. Once targeting mostly individuals, they are increasingly victimizing businesses.

“They were very inclusive as to the fraud they were perpetrating and laundering money for,” said Alma Angotti, a managing director at the consulting firm Navigant in London who advises government and corporate clients on anti-money laundering strategy.

Federal agents work at a downtown Los Angeles parking lot after predawn raids, Aug. 22, 2019.

Pervasive

Online fraud has become increasingly pervasive in recent years. In its annual Internet Crime Report in April, the FBI said online theft, fraud and exploitation were responsible for $2.7 billion in financial losses in 2018, up from $1.4 billion in 2017. Meanwhile, romance scams cost Americans $143 million last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The Nigerian fraudsters targeted victims around the world, some of whom lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. At least 16 companies were among the victims.

Iro and Igbokwe, the men at the heart of the scam, hail from the Nigerian city of Owerri, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.

Many fraudsters knew them from Owerri. Others were directed to them through middlemen.

“I am known all over the world,” Iro once bragged to a fellow Nigerian con artist, according to the complaint. “Even people I never meet before call me and give me better business.”

For swindlers seeking a temporary haven for stolen funds, Iro and his partner allegedly provided a valuable service.

“They would collect bank account information … field requests for bank account information from co-conspirators all over the world, and then send out bank account information to multiple coconspirators,” according to the complaint.

Using a network of “money exchangers,” they then helped the fraudsters funnel the money out of the country.

The men took a cut of 20% to 50% of each transaction. It was a lucrative business.

In 2017, according to the indictment, Iro and Igbokwe sent at least $5 million to the Nigerian accounts of the fraudsters, family members and themselves, according to the complaint.

Evidence seized by the FBI indicates the two men were using the stolen funds to build large houses in Nigeria.


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Woman to Woman: Female Trump Backers Try to Sell His Message

President Donald Trump’s campaign is rallying and training a corps of female defenders, mindful that Trump’s shaky standing with women could sink his hopes of re-election next year.

Female surrogates and supporters fanned out across important battlegrounds Thursday in a high-profile push to make the president’s case on the economy and to train campaign volunteers. Organizers said they believe female backers are often uncomfortable acknowledging they support Trump.

“We want to empower women with other women to be able to share the message of success of this president, to share their success under this president,” said Trump campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine, who will be leading one of the events in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The move is a recognition of the president’s persistent deficit with women. Over the course of his presidency and across public opinion polls, women have been consistently less supportive of Trump than men. Suburban women in particular rejected Republicans in the 2018 midterm by margins that set off alarms for the party and the president.

 The most recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found just 30% of women approve of the way the president is doing his job, compared to 42% of men. Notably, there was no gap between Republican men and women — 80% of both groups said they approved of his job performance in the August poll.

A cutout of President Trump and his wife Melania is shown outside a training session for Women for Trump, An Evening to Empower, in Troy, Mich., Aug. 22, 2019.

Much of the campaign’s appeal to women has so far focused on highlighting economic gains since Trump’s election in 2016, a message that is especially vulnerable to a slowdown. That includes frequently pointing to the jobless rate for women, which fell to 3.4% in April — the lowest since 1953, even though it has since crept up to 3.7%.

“You are the cavalry here,” Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson told a crowd of supporters at a voter registration training event in Troy, Michigan, a Detroit suburb viewed as key contested territory in this swing state. “There is no president in our lifetime that has done more to advance the interests of women than President Donald J. Trump.”

Similar events were scheduled in 13 battleground states, including Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Ohio. The events, led by surrogates including counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, will try to train attendees to be volunteers and what the campaign describes as “ambassadors” for the re-election effort.

Among the women in attendance in Troy was Cara McAlister, a sales representative from the nearby suburb of Bloomfield Township. She said that she always votes but that it was not until Trump’s 2016 candidacy that she was inspired to get more involved politically, becoming a GOP precinct delegate and canvassing door to door for him.

She said she has friends who were afraid to reveal their support for Trump because they worried about backlash. So she invites them to meetings like Thursday’s gathering.

“They really enjoy being in an atmosphere where they feel free to express their support for the president,” said McAlister, who was wearing a white “Make America Great Again” cap and blue Trump-Pence shirt and who described herself as “middle age.” “They tend to want to go to another event.”

AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 115,000 midterm voters nationwide, found that 40% of women voted for Republicans in last year’s congressional elections, compared to 50% of men. In suburban areas in particular, 38% of women and 49% of men voted for Republicans.

Trump has turned off higher-income, college educated and younger women “because of how he speaks, how he tweets,” said Republican pollster Frank Luntz, while retaining the support of older women and women with lower incomes and without college degrees.

That contrast is evident in Iowa, a state Trump won by more than 9 percentage points in 2016, but one that has historically been seen as a potential swing state.

Some Republican women here, like Des Moines resident Pat Inglis, have become more fervent Trump supporters over the course of his first term.

“He’s helped this country more than anybody else in the last 20 years,” the 70-year-old retiree said. She added that Democratic attacks against the president, and the leftward tilt of the Democratic Party, have made her all the more enthusiastic to support Trump.

Others, like Mary Miner, a lifelong Republican and small-business owner from rural Iowa, were driven away from the GOP by Trump.

“Trump is horrible,” the 61-year-old said. “I’m astonished anyone could support him. If my party is going to support that, I’m done with `em. I’m a Democrat and that’s it.”

Miner switched parties in 2017 and will be caucusing for Elizabeth Warren next year.

At the same time, said Luntz, recent focus groups show that women have dug in on their views, suggesting there are fewer women open to being persuaded.

“What’s happened is it’s become more pronounced where those who don’t like him are overtly hostile and those who do like him will stand up for him aggressively,” Luntz said. “They are even more outspoken than men. They are even more dismissive. It’s spoken with attitude and with venom. And I think it’s because they take it personally.”

As a result, he said, the election is likely to come down to a very narrow demographic — married professional mothers with teenage kids, he says — who credit Trump for a booming economy but are turned off by his style.

“They like what he’s done, but they don’t like how he’s done it,” he said. “Do you want to focus on the ingredients, or do you want to focus on the casserole?”

 


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US Government Issues Final Utah Monument Plan

The U.S. government’s final management plan for lands in and around a Utah national monument that President Donald Trump downsized doesn’t include many new protections for the cliffs, canyons, waterfalls and arches found there, but it does include a few more safeguards than were in a proposal issued last year. 
 
The Bureau of Land Management’s plan for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southwestern Utah codifies that the lands cut out of the monument will be open to mineral extraction such as oil, gas and coal as expected, according to a plan summary the agency provided to The Associated Press. 
 
The agency chose an option that doesn’t add any areas of critical environmental concern, increases lands open to cattle grazing and could raise the potential for “adverse effects” on lands and resources in the monument, the document shows. 
 
At the same time, the agency tweaked the plan from last year to call for new recreation management plans to address impacts on several highly visited areas, opens fewer acres to ATVs and nixes a plan that would have allowed people to collect some non-dinosaur fossils in certain areas inside the monument. 

The agency also determined that no land will be sold from the 1,345 square miles (3,488 square kilometers) cut from the monument. Last year, Interior Department leaders rescinded a plan to sell 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometers) of that land after it was included in the draft management proposal and drew backlash from environmentalists. 

Conservation and paleontology groups have vehemently opposed the downsizing of the monument and have lawsuits pending challenging the move. 

The Upper Gulch section of the Escalante Canyons within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument features sheer sandstone walls, broken occasionally by tributary canyons, shown in an undated photo.

‘Not a free-for-all’
 
Harry Barber, the acting manager at Grand Staircase, said in an interview with the AP that the plan reflects changes made after considering input from the public, an assessment that enough protections are in place already, and the voices of all different groups who use the lands. 

 
“There are people who graze livestock, people that like to hunt, people that like to hike, people that like to trail run,” said Barber, who has worked at the monument since it was created. “We’re trying to be fair.”

He pushed back against the notion that the lands now outside the monument will be left abandoned, saying the lands are still subject to rules and polices like all federally managed land. 
 
Interest in oil, gas and coal has been limited so far and no project has been approved, Barber said. The lands are home to a major coal reserve but there’s little market demand. 
 
“It’s not a free-for-all,” Barber said. “That seems to be what I hear a lot, people feeling like now anybody can go out and do anything they want to do on these lands. But, they need to realize that we still have our rules and policies.”  

‘Destroying this place’
 
But to Steve Bloch, legal director at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance conservation group, it’s unforgivable to cut the monument in half and downgrade the excluded lands into what he calls “garden variety public lands.” 
 
“Grand Staircase-Escalante is one of the nation’s public land crown jewels and from the outset the Trump administration was hell-bent on destroying this place,” Bloch said. 
 
To Bloch’s organization and other conservation groups that have lawsuits pending challenging the Trump administration’s decision to shrink Grand Staircase and Bears Ears National Monument, also in Utah, spending time on the plans is a waste of taxpayer resources. They think the government should have waited to see how the courts rule. 
 
President Bill Clinton created the monument in 1996 using the Antiquities Act, which sets guidelines calling for the “smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

In 2017, Trump shrunk the monument from nearly 3,000 square miles (7,770 square kilometers) to 1,569 square miles (4,064 square kilometers) after a review of 27 national monuments by then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Trump downsized the Bears Ears National Monument, created by President Barack Obama in 2016, by about 85%. 
 
Trump said scaling back the two monuments reversed federal overreach and earned cheers from Republican leaders in Utah who lobbied him to undo protections by Democratic presidents that they considered overly broad. 
 
Conservation groups have called Trump’s decision the largest elimination of protected land in American history and believe they will prevail in their legal challenge. 
 
Past presidents have trimmed national monuments 18 times, but there’s never been a court ruling on whether the Antiquities Act also lets them reduce one.

David Polly, a paleontologist at Indiana University and past president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, said he’s relieved no fossil collection will be allowed inside the monument but worries that allowing people to take non-dinosaur fossils in many areas of the lands cut could lead to problems. The fossils in the area are rare because it’s an ancient river bed and not an ocean bed and some items like petrified wood can be hard to distinguish from a dinosaur bone. 
 
“It may be accidentally encouraging people to end up breaking the rules,” Polly said. 


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State Department to Assess Funding, After White House Abandons Fight Over US Foreign Assistance

The State Department says it will assess its programming and redirect all funding on foreign aid, after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned plans to cut $4 billion in spending on the grounds that it was wasteful and unnecessary.

“As part of this discussion, we agreed to continue to assess our programming and redirect all funding that does not directly support our priorities,” said a State Department spokesperson on Friday.

“This effort will ensure every foreign assistance program funded by U.S. taxpayers is both effective and supports our foreign policy priorities,” added the spokesperson.  

One of the programs under assessment is U.S. foreign assistance to the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The State Department said those nations are not taking concrete actions to reduce the number of illegal migrants coming to the U.S. border. 

Trump had considered cutting the spending on grounds that it was wasteful and unnecessary, but retreated when it became apparent that some key lawmakers were opposed.

The Trump Administration officials briefly suspended State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development spending, eyeing a budget process known as “rescission” to cut up to $4.3 billion in spending already authorized and appropriated by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

FILE – A man walks past boxes of USAID humanitarian aid at a warehouse at the Tienditas International Bridge on the outskirts of Cucuta, Colombia, Feb. 21, 2019, on the border with Venezuela.

“The president has been clear that there is waste and abuse in our foreign assistance, and we need to be wise about where U.S. money is going,” a senior White House official told VOA. “Which is why he asked his administration to look into options to doing just that.”

But after both Republican and Democratic lawmakers objected to the White House effort to freeze the foreign aid already approved by Congress, the Trump administration gave in.

“It’s clear that there are many (in Congress) who aren’t willing to join in curbing wasteful spending,” the White House aide said.

Some of Trump’s top budget cutters wanted him to trim the foreign aid as a show of fiscal restraint after Trump recently signed a two-year, $2.7 trillion spending plan.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who oversees the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, said that withholding the money would have violated “the good faith” of reaching agreement on the long-term budget. 

Two Republicans, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Congressman Hal Rogers, said freezing the foreign aid spending would hurt “significant” national security and counterterrorism efforts while also complicating spending negotiations between the White House and Congress in the future.

Trump had expressed some ambivalence over the funding.

“We give billions and billions of dollars to countries that don’t like us — don’t like us even a little bit,” the president told reporters last weekend. “And I’ve been cutting that. And we just put a package of about $4 billion additional dollars in. And in some cases, you know, in some cases, I could see it both ways. In some cases, these are countries that we should not be giving to.”

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 21, 2019, in Washington.

Former USAID officials had denounced the White House’s plan to cut U.S. foreign assistance, which is a tool to advance U.S. interests. 

In a tweet, former USAID Administrator Gayle Smith said the plan to “rescind billions in development funding is as ineffective as it is shameless.”

She added that the development funding “isn’t just charity,” but a way to foster U.S. values, foreign policy, national security and economic interests.

A quick thread on why OMB’s plan to rescind billions in development funding is as ineffective as it is shameless.

For years, Republicans & Dems have agreed development isn’t just charity, it’s a tool to advance US values, foreign policy, nat security & economic interests. 1/15

— Gayle Smith (@GayleSmith) August 20, 2019


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Головлікарю Мінспорту оголосили підозру у справі про закупівлю «сумнівних препаратів» для збірних – СБУ

Головному лікареві Міністерства молоді і спорту України оголосили підозру у справі про закупівлю «сумнівних медичних препаратів» для національних збірних України, повідомляє Служба безпеки.

За даними СБУ, чиновники від спорту організували протиправний механізм для розкрадання бюджетних коштів при закупівлі лікарських засобів і медичних препаратів для потреб національних збірних команд України.

«Оперативники спецслужби встановили, що посадовці держустанови «Управління збірних команд і проведення спортивних заходів «Укрспортзабезпечення», яка перебуває у сфері управління Мінмолодьсорту, у порушення вимог законодавства закупили у приватного підприємства лікарські засоби і медпрепарати на суму понад 8 мільйонів гривень. У межах кримінального провадження, розпочатого за ч. 5 ст. 191 (привласнення, розтрата майна або заволодіння ним шляхом зловживання службовим становищем) Кримінального кодексу України, задокументовано, що закуплена продукція взагалі не відноситься до лікарських засобів», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Крім того, за даними СБУ, частина препаратів, переданих спортсменам під виглядом лікарських медичних препаратів, не пройшла відповідний контроль у Національному антидопінговому центрі.

«Через дії посадовців державному бюджету України завдано збитки на більше ніж 8 мільйонів гривень, і поставлено під загрозу виступи на міжнародних змаганнях національних команд у зв’язку із відсутністю допінг контролю продукції», – додали у спецслужбі.

Слідчі дії для встановлення всіх осіб, задіяних у протиправному механізмі, та притягнення їх до кримінальної відповідальності, тривають, повідомили в СБУ.

 


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У Кремлі прокоментували переговори між Путіним і Зеленським про обмін

У Кремлі підтвердили проведення переговорів між лідерами Росії та України Володимиром Путіним та Володимиром Зеленським щодо обміну утримуваних осіб, повідомляє російське державне інформагентство ТАСС.

«Поки ми констатуємо початок діалогу між президентами Путіним і Зеленським, констатуємо певні контакти, які здійснюються в розвиток цих розмов і в розвиток тих розумінь, які були досягнуті в ході розмов», – заявив речник російського президента Дмитро Пєсков.

Раніше сьогодні президент України Володимир Зеленський заявив, що сподівається на «перші результати» щодо обміну утримуваних осіб між Україною та Росією найближчим часом.

Раніше, 20 серпня, російська правозахисниця Вікторія Івлєва повідомила, що адміністрація московського слідчого ізолятора «Лефортово» прийняла передачі для п’ятьох утримуваних Росією українців – Володимира Балуха, Станіслава Клиха, Олександра Кольченка, Павла Гриба і Миколи Карпюка. 21 серпня Івлєва розповіла, що адміністрація «Лефортова» прийняла передачі для трьох інших українців, утримуваних російською владою, – Романа Сущенка, Олексія Сизоновича і Євгена Панова. До цього українці перебували в місцях позбавлення волі в інших російських регіонах.

Припускають, що цих українців у Росії готують на обмін.

А в Україні адвокат Валентин Рибін заявив 22 серпня, що колишні українські військові Максим Одинцов і Олександр Баранов, засуджені у «справі кримських дезертирів», а також громадяни Росії Євген Мефьодов, фігурант справи про події 2 травня 2014 року в Одесі, й Ігор Кімаковський, затриманий як підозрюваний «агент ФСБ Росії», проходять юридичні процедури оформлення обміну на утримуваних у Росії українців. За його словами, в обміні візьмуть участь не тільки ці четверо, а й інші.

За даними Міністерства закордонних справ України, Росія незаконно утримує понад 70 українців. До цього числа не входять 24 українські моряки, захоплені Росією біля Керченської протоки наприкінці листопада 2018 року.


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Продюсер фільму «Додому» про кримських татар став членом Європейської кіноакадемії

Продюсер фільму «Додому» про повернення на батьківщину кримських татар Володимир Яценко став членом Європейської кіноакадемії. Про це йдеться на сторінці фільму «Додому» у фейсбуці. 

Яценко є головою Асоціації кіноіндустрії України. Крім «Додому», він продюсував фільми «Дике поле» Ярослава Лодигіна і «Атлантида» Валентина Васяновича.

Повнометражна стрічка «Додому» (Evge/Homeward) українського режисера Нарімана Алієва – це фільм про кримського татарина, син якого був убитий під час війни на Донбасі. Прем’єра фільму відбулася 22 травня на 72-му Каннському міжнародному кінофестивалі, де він взяв участь в конкурсній програмі «Особливий погляд». У прокат фільм вийде 7 листопада.

«Додому» стане єдиним українським фільмом, який візьме участь у відборі на «Оскар».

Як повідомляв раніше проект Радіо Свобода Крим. Реалії, стрічка вже отримала гран-прі X Одеського міжнародного кінофестивалю, а також була відзначена нагородою за найкращий фільм на міжнародному кінофестивалі в Бухаресті.


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US-China Trade War Is Good News for Some Countries

As with any war, there are winners and losers. That is also the case with the U.S.-China trade war.

As the two countries battle, companies affected by high tariffs are looking to manufacture their products elsewhere, and businesses outside of the U.S. and China are seeing economic booms.

Two factories in Vietnam currently make electric bicycles for Pedego, an American company based in Fountain Valley, California. Eighty percent of Pedego’s bike parts used to be from China, but not anymore.

“Now, we’re probably 70% in Vietnam, and 30% in Taiwan,” said Don DiCostanzo, Pedego’s co-founder and CEO.

Boxes of bikes from Vietnam are stacked in the warehouse of Pedego Electric Bikes in Fountain Valley, California. The bikes are assembled at the company’s headquarters. (VOA/E. Lee)

Shift to Vietnam

In February 2018, DiCostanzo said he made the decision to shift production to Vietnam because of the threat of high European Union tariffs on Chinese-made electric bikes. Production in Vietnam started seven months later in September, the same month the U.S imposed a round of tariffs on Chinese made goods that included electric bikes.

“We then were immediately able to accelerate that production. And we began producing bikes in Vietnam for this country (the U.S.) in September right after the tariffs went in place, and by Jan. 1, (2019), we eliminated all production in China and managed to move all of our production and supply chain to Vietnam,” DiCostanzo said.


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WATCH: US-China Trade War is Good News for Some Countries

 

By the beginning of this year, the factories in Vietnam were producing bikes for Pedego. While some bike components were still coming from China, DiCostanzo kept looking to source components from other countries, and Pedego’s dependence on Chinese components decreased over time.

Trade war helps Vietnam and Mexico

Pedego is not the only company moving manufacturing away from China because of the trade war. The U.S.-based company GoPro moved production of its U.S.-bound cameras out of China and into Mexico in June. GoPro said it wanted to insulate the company “against possible tariffs as well as recognize some cost savings and efficiencies.”

GoPro cameras for markets outside the U.S. continue to be produced in China.

“The two countries that are benefiting the most are Vietnam and Mexico. They are benefiting because of the ability to take advantage in terms of capacity and because of their geography. And everybody else is looking at them with envy,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Center for Regional Economics at the Milken Institute, a think tank based in Santa Monica, California.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, goods imported from Mexico increased by more than 6% for the first six months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. Imports from Vietnam during those same periods rose by more than 33%. Chinese imports for the same periods decreased by more than 12%.

“The Vietnamese government has done an incredible job of making themselves ready and available to facilitate moving manufacturing. They’ve been positioning themselves as a direct competitor to China for a while, particularly on cost,” Klowden said.

DiCostanzo said he found the quality of products from Vietnam has also been better than from China.

FILE – China Shipping Company containers are stacked at the Virginia International’s terminal in Portsmouth, Va., May 10, 2019.

Return manufacturing to US

Manufacturing and outsourcing in a global economy is a fickle business, however. Any weather disruptions, political instability or the emergence of a cheaper competitor can cause businesses to shift to a different manufacturing hub.

“Manufacturing has shown itself to be mobile in a way that we never could have imagined years ago,” Klowden said.

Some companies in the U.S., such as Pedego, eventually would like to manufacture their products in America.

“A number of companies would like to move manufacturing back to the U.S. just because of proximity to market because of stability. The catch is that manufacturing that moves back to the U.S. employs dramatically fewer people than it would have 20, 30 years ago,” Klowden explained.

Any business that manufactures in the U.S. and can successfully compete in the global economic would use automation and robotics.

“These robots, you don’t have to pay them overtime, and they don’t have to take time off, and they work 24/7,” Pedego’s DiCostanzo said. “So, the idea of robotics and the efficiency of a robot could actually drive the prices down.”

DiCostanzo is part of a coalition of American bike manufacturers that is pushing for legislation to exempt bicycle assembly-related components from tariffs for 10 years, action that could spur the opening of automated bike factories in the U.S.


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