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Watch 2000

Beyond 2000By Chuck Norton, Assistant Editor Watch 2000 Will you be prepared if more than the Y2K bug bites

Chuck Norton

January 1, 2000. While it is arguable as to whether or not it is the actual beginning of the next millennium or whether that honor is bestowed to January 1, 2001, when the clock strikes midnight on January 1 millions if not billions of people will be filled with at least a small sense of fear.Why Y2K should answer at least part of that question. While its effect will remain unknown for several months to come, there are other issues that will also have far-reaching effects.Some events, such as the next presidential election are widely known, while others are taking place with relative obscurity. These events may vary in impact, but taking a closer look at how they will effect you and your company might be a wise idea. Open Broader ProvisionAn issue that could have a major impact on the textile industry is the NAFTA provision opening U.S. borders to trucks from Mexico and Canada. These trucks are currently allowed to be within 3 to 20 miles of the border for commercial purposes. The economic impact of this provision is uncertain. What is certain is that the concern over safety, as well as the lack of federal truck inspectors, has forced the government to re-think whether or not to open borders on January 1.Published reports have stated that of the 3.9 million trucks that entered the United States from Mexico in 1998, approximately 45 percent failed U.S. inspection. Of the 5.8 million trucks from Canada, 17 percent failed inspection.The lack of stringent safety requirements by Mexico, and to a lesser degree Canada, will place an increased burden on U.S. border inspectors, who were able to inspect only 0.6 percent of trucks crossing the border in 1998. Internet And E-CommerceThe expanding Internet, which has changed almost every facet of American life, will continue to have a staggering influence on business and government. E-commerce is creating increased competition in manufacturer-to-consumer and business-to-business purchasing.As a current television commercial states, 16 million people get on the Internet for the first time every day. Drawbacks to the Internet and e-commerce, such as computer viruses, hackers and lawsuits will hinder, but not impede its expediential growth. Bills Effecting IndustryIn the textile industry, the Caribbean Basin Trade Enhancement Act and African Growth and Opportunity Act (also known as the sub-Saharan Act), will have long-reaching effects if finalized by Congress.Another bill that will have a lesser effect on industry is the Computer Equipment Common Sense Depreciation Act. This act states that any computer or peripheral equipment used in manufacturing can be depreciated over two years rather than five years. This bill goes into effect January 1, 2000. Uncertain Financial MarketsThere is some question as to the state of the financial markets in the days leading up to, and the days following, the first of the year. Many experts believe that the financial markets will be not only be thin, but also quite volatile in price fluctuation from about December 31, 1999 to January 7, 2000. This effect on stocks, bonds and other securities is directly linked to the unknown effect of the Y2K bug on the computer systems that control financial and government institutions. Jublilee 2000Jubilee 2000 is a proposal to "forgive" the debt of the world's 40 poorest countries on January 1,2000. Lawmakers say that while its cost will be almost unfelt by the average American (about $1.20 a year for three years) it has the potential to save approximately 20,000 lives a day in these countries. This debt relief proposal is currently being debated in Congress. Stay InformedThe key to staying ahead of the business curve is staying well informed. As more information is made available, managing it becomes even more crucial. It is crucial to not get blind-sided by important issues in the year 2000. (For more on these issues, see ATI, January 2000).

December 1999