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During visit to military contractor in Portsmouth, U.S. Trade Representative hears of ongoing supply chain disruptions

Ambassador Katherine Tai, with Rep. Chris Pappas, during a presentation at Galvion, which manufacturers helmets for soldiers.
Todd Bookman
Ambassador Katherine Tai, with Rep. Chris Pappas, during a presentation at Galvion, which manufacturers helmets for soldiers.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai toured Galvion on Tuesday, hearing from the Portsmouth company’s leadership how international trade and raw material purchases continue to face disruption stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Galvion designs and manufactures high-tech helmets and other armor for soldiers, as well as modern battery equipment that can be worn in battle. The company, which employs about 400 people across the U.S. and Canada, including 50 in New Hampshire, has struggled to acquire some of the fabrics it uses due to supply chain issues, noting that shipping container delays have elevated costs.

Tai said that she is hearing of similar challenges from companies across the country, more than two years after the start of the pandemic.

“Certainly that’s something that’s been a consistent theme, whether it's ordering a washing machine for your home or component parts for these really important tactical gear that they are making here,” said Tai.

Tai, who is tasked with negotiating international trade deals and advising the White House on trade, was joined by Rep. Chris Pappas during her visit to Portsmouth.

Galvion President Kristin Lomastro said the company is also facing increased costs stemming from tariffs imposed during the Trump Administration, as well as the negative exchange rate impacts of a strong U.S. dollar on exports.

The company has worked to simplify its supply chain in recent years, and is seeking to exit the Chinese market for some of the plastic components inside its products.

Pappas said he’s hearing of similar initiatives from other businesses in the state.

“The company we are at here today, Galvion, mentioned their efforts to on-shore supply chains and focus on resiliency,” Pappas told reporters. “Many companies that are exporting and manufacturing here in New Hampshire are looking at how they do that.”

Tai, along with members of the congressional delegation, were scheduled for another event Tuesday inside the Pease International Airport as Democrats continue to promote recent bills including the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS Act signed into law.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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