Could Increasing Tariffs Have An Impact On Campus Safety Budgets?

Picture of Mary Kate McGrath By Mary Kate McGrath

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shutterstock In September, tariffs of up to $200 were imposed on Chinese goods, causing many to worry the trade war would intensify. The tariffs would start at 10% and rise to 25% later in 2019, and would target a variety of products ranging from burglar alarms to bicycles, according to PBS News. A few items were removed from the list, including child safety products such as helmets or banister gates. Smartphone technology would be largely untouched in the tariff hikes, so phones watches, and other electronics of this wouldn’t be put under pressure from the tariffs. 

For campus safety managers, it’s important to keep an eye on the trade negotiations. The tariffs could impact a number of campus security products, such as security cameras, access control readers, intrusion detection systems and corresponding panic alarms, many of which are made in China, as reported by Campus Safety Magazine. These products have not managed to receive an exempt status during the trade tariffs thus far, which could put a strain on campus safety budgets, amid already tight college and university budgets.

Manufacturers will do all the possible to manage these potential cost hikes, from negotiating with factories on a personal level, increasing production before the tariffs are instated or petitioning the government to make their products exempt. There is a chance that given the safety services these products provide, the government could hear out an appeal. In the meantime, the impact will not be as dramatic for campus safety management teams as it would be for factories, but it is still noteworthy. The uncertainty in the security technology market should be considered while crafting comprehensive safety plans.

There are several areas of the political and economic arena that campus safety managers concerned about the trade war impacting their safety practices should keep an eye on.

The Trade War Impact On Campus Safety Is Developing 

The political and economic climate can change quickly, which means that the tariffs and products they impact are subject to change. Disrupting supply chains can have serious long term economic repercussions as it damages business confidence and puts the growth of the economy in jeopardy. In recent years, the unemployment rate has held at a steady 3.9%, with job growth notable consistent since the end of the recession in 2010, as per NPR.

Politicians are not likely to want to disrupt this positive trend, and may shift economic decisions accordingly. In December of 2018, President Trump put a 90-day delay on the tariff policy and it's still unclear what will become of the trade war moving forward. The halt in negotiations in December would temporarily prevent the hike in tariffs, but a long term decision has yet to be found. The impact of the trade war has been particularly tough on the American agriculture industry, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have widespread repercussions that could hit manufacturing. 

The presidential administration has a self-imposed March deadline to renegotiate the US-China deal to avoid the increase to 25%, but Goldman Sachs analysts predicted an agreement is unlikely before the date. It remains wise for campus safety management teams looking to put new tools in place to consider the potential for added financial pressure. It is likely that physical security tools will increase, and these measures are among the most popular and effective solutions for increasing campus safety.

In Campus Safety Magazine, CEDIA trade association director Tabatha O’Connor confirmed these tariffs would impact the distribution chain for physical security devices. “Many manufacturers in the CEDIA channel use parts from or manufacture products in China, and the current and potential tariffs will hit electronic products,” she said. “Those increases will be felt along the entire distribution chain.” She also urged end users, who in this case are safety managers, to discuss the potential increase in cost and amend their safety plans and proposals accordingly.

The Future of Trade For Campus Safety 

It’s important to note that while security companies manufacturing products in China are the hardest hit, there are plenty of factories in the United States that could also feel impact. Many domestic manufacturers outsource materials such as magnets and steel, and as a result the the squeeze from increased tariffs could be felt across security and technology industries. For this reason, it’s difficult to estimate how broad the impact of an ongoing trade war would be on the full range of security products that campuses regularly purchase. The raise in costs comes as a country-wide push for increased school security, and it’s important for those spearheading new security measures on campus to consider the potential cost increase.

It’s not yet clear what the future will be for the trade war, as the negotiations between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are ongoing, as reported by CNBC. The two have an agreement to hold off on further tariffs until March 1, but it remains unclear if a new deal will be negotiated by the date. It appeared that China may agree to increase purchase of American agriculture and energy goods, but these were vague informal promises, and Trump also remains unclear on whether he will proceed with further tariff hikes. Informal talks are scheduled between the countries but not formal negotiations, so it’s especially difficult to predict outcomes.

For those whose safety plan includes impacted campus security products, it’s important to remember that factories and manufacturers will be under increased financial pressure and the cost will likely raise after January of 2019. When putting together a budget, make sure that the financial investments in these tools include a safety net in the event of raised costs. It’s still of extreme importance to invest in the most effective solutions to manage safety on campus, and the increase in price should be manageable with appropriate planning.

Leveraging Technology to Manage Trade War Impact 

It’s important to note that while physical solutions, technology has provided many ways to bolster campus safety. A personal campus safety app can be a powerful tool to improve safety for all in the immediate area during an emergency and empower students to take safety into their own hands. A personal safety app can help build a safer community through texting capability with campus safety, an anonymous two-way tip texting, and allows them to access any information or resources needed about safety or health personnel on campus through a directory. One of the key features of this app is the safety timer, which allows students to inform friends, family, or another designated guardian as they travel across campus. If they do not arrive and check in on the app by the set time, guardians will be informed as well as the appropriate safety personnel.  

Amid rising concerns about campus safety, management teams and administrators likely want to have as many safeguards in place as possible. Physical security has long been an essential part of a campus safety plan, with tools like ID cards and cameras proving among the most effective protective measures to have on campus. It’s possible to further bolster these tools with mobile safety technology, and it’s key to examine all potential measures amid budgetary concerns that might arise during tariff increasing or in the instance of a prolonged trade war.

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Mary Kate McGrath

Written by Mary Kate McGrath

Mary Kate is a content specialist and social media manager for the Rave Mobile Safety team. She writes about public safety for the state & local and education spheres.

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