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It feels like 2021 has flown by compared to the snail’s pace of 2020.
I attribute this primarily to the hope the COVID-19 vaccines have raised and the slow return to what would be considered normal. Even if the world is busy with the new omicron variant, most of us want to believe that 2022 will feel more like 2019 than 2020. As usual in my column at the turn of the year, I publish my wishes for the coming year.
First of all, I hope the world reaches herd immunity and that the COVID-19 pandemic is on a tough retreat. This means vaccinating as many people as possible and receiving as many booster vaccinations. However, it also depends on people who have not been vaccinated trust science and use the vaccine not only for their own health, but also for the health of their family and community. Yes, breakthrough infections have occurred in people who have been vaccinated, but the likelihood of serious illness or death in these people is small. As more people are vaccinated, the chances of virus mutations decrease.
The Omicron variant, which apparently comes from southern Africa, clearly shows that it is not enough to vaccinate your own citizens and leave other countries on their own. Virus mutations that appear in other countries will eventually find their way to the US. In order to protect their own people, developed countries must make it easier for other less developed nations to obtain vaccines.
We have to learn from the pandemic and not be caught on the wrong foot with the next. We must remember the chaotic scramble for personal protective equipment such as masks, disinfectants and medical equipment over the past year. The US government needs to focus on declaring and developing strategic industries / products that can be manufactured within our borders. We must not be vulnerable again or exposed to the production of critical goods from other countries, especially those that are not friendly to the United States
In 2022 I would like large supply chains of goods and raw materials to regain efficiency and stability. I feel with consumer goods retailers who placed their orders months ago only to see delivery of their goods delayed until after the holiday season.
On the plus side, some materials like refined fuels seem to be catching up with demand. Gas prices appear to be falling in many parts of the country as supply increases. Logistics experts predict that most supply chains will be almost back to normal by summer 2022. Let’s hope normality comes even sooner.
In the context of supply chain disruptions, inflation is related to the pandemic, which the Federal Reserve calls “transitory,” which means that the current spike in inflation should slow down if the pandemic is kept in check and supply chains stabilize. The buzz during the holiday season is how much the cost of goods has increased.
Let’s hope inflation is under control in 2022.
I hope American and overseas companies manufacturing in regions like Asia continue to be interested in returning manufacturing to North America. Reshoring means that production will be returned to the US, while nearshoring means that they have chosen either Mexico or Canada to bring production back from a foreign country. Moving production across an ocean doesn’t happen overnight, and reshoring and nearshoring take time. The 2011 pandemic and Japanese tsunami demonstrated how catastrophic events can destroy global supply chains. If companies and business leaders have not learned from these events how to secure their production in order to reduce risks, they will be ashamed.
Yes, certain products in North America can be more expensive to manufacture for the North American market than in a location such as China. But how much are smoother, shorter supply chains worth in the long run?
Last but not least, I want our nation to be able to return to politeness, both socially and politically. I am embarrassed to see elected officials spread misinformation at all levels of government and how middle school children snipers in the opposition party. By creating chaos and vitriol, we are showing the rest of the world that we are indecisive and weakened. Our economic and diplomatic strengths are weakened by the take-no-prisoners approach, where political compromises are impossible.
Our government works on compromises, as is the case in our democracy. I long for the days of politicians like Tip O’Neill, Pete Domenici, and Jeff Bingaman who were loyal to their party but put the good of the nation first. They were ready to cross the aisle, negotiate, and compromise. In 2022, I would like Americans to direct the political sector towards the system that made our nation great and a beacon of democracy.
Jerry Pacheco is the Executive Director of the International Business Accelerator, a nonprofit trade advisory program operated by the New Mexico Small Business Development Centers Network. He can be reached at 575-589-2200 or [email protected]