Afternoon Coffee: European Union imposes tariffs on U.S. goods; COVID-19 tests siphon supply for other medical tests; Proactis hosting its ReThink ’20 flagship event

Photographee.eu/Adobe Stock

The European Union on Monday announced that it would impose tariffs on up to $4 billion worth of U.S. goods and services over illegal aid for plane maker Boeing, according to the Associated Press.

The tariffs will begin Tuesday. The World Trade Organization has deemed some U.S. support for Boeing illegal and said the EU could make up for that with limited penalties on U.S. trade. Last year, the WTO ruled in favor of the U.S., allowing it to impose penalties on EU goods worth up to $7.5 billion — things like Gouda cheese, single-malt whiskey and French wine — because of European support for Boeing’s rival Airbus, the article said.

Germany’s Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the EU tariff step was “logical,” and most of the 27 EU member countries agree. The EU is hopeful that trade ties will improve when U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office but remains wary until then. The EU earlier released a preliminary list that suggests it could go after a wide range of U.S. products, like frozen fish and shellfish, dried fruit, tobacco, rum and vodka, handbags, motorcycle parts and tractors, the article said.

The president of the U.S. Distilled Spirits Council, Chris Swonger, said the new tariffs “will be a major blow” to the spirits industry, “especially craft distillers who are struggling to regain their footing following the closings of distillery tasting rooms, restaurants and bars due to COVID-19.”

COVID-19 tests take supplies from other medical tests, pressure supply chains more

The supply and demand for COVID-19 tests has siphoned supplies crucial for other kinds of medical exams, including strep throat, fungal infections and sexually transmitted diseases, forcing labs to ration testing for certain conditions, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Doctors and labs face shortfalls of swabs, chemicals and other equipment necessary to test patients and process tests, partially because of supply chains that needed to be rewired during the pandemic to ramp up production for COVID-19 tests. Due to shortages, some medical-testing labs limit how many samples they can process and which conditions they test for.

About 30% of labs surveyed the week of Oct. 26 by the American Society for Microbiology and the Association of Supply Chain Management said they experienced shortages of supplies to detect bacteria that cause certain infections, the article said. Laboratory directors said they expect shortages to worsen in the coming months.

“We make the best of what we can, but the bottom line is, we still can’t get enough reagents. We still can’t get enough consumables,” Patrick Godbey, a lab director in Georgia who is president of the College of American Pathologists, told the WSJ.

Proactis' event this week to focus on bringing procurement and finance together

This week, Proactis, a spend management specialist, is hosting its flagship event — ReThink ’20. The event has been designed specifically to help senior professionals in procurement, finance and IT rethink their course to reach the maximum value they can for their organizations.

From Tuesday to Thursday, ReThink ‘20 will bring together spend management professionals in a virtual event to share knowledge, best practice, their achievements, shortfalls and learnings in discussions to help the professions align.

Proactis will provide speaking sessions that challenge and push the boundaries of what’s possible. Kick-starting the discussions is a keynote from Helen Sharman CMG, OBE — the first British astronaut in space — who will share her stories about pushing one’s boundaries to achieve success.

For event registration details and more info, visit the ReThink ’20 webpage.

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