Report from America: The NAM Board Meeting, Day 3

By March 4, 2006Report from America

Report from AmericaAnother busy day for manufacturers here in the sunny Arizona desert. Truth is, we’re in an air-conditioned hotel, but it sits in the Arizona desert. We spend all our days inside, but it’s better to be among manufacturers inside than to be alone outside.

Today began with the policy group meetings. We attended the one on trade, which always promises to be an interesting discussion and today didn’t disappoint. Some nuggets from this meeting was a reminder from one of our manufacturers (who must be reading the blog) that this is a multi-lateral world, not a bi-lateral world. People who focus one-dimensionally on the US and China miss the fact that our competitors are in China as well, and will sell there if we do not. Same with every other market in the world. Recall that our share of the Chilean market grew and the EU’s shrank after our Chilean free trade agreement was signed. It’s a big world o t there. Said one manufacturer, “we must consider the ramifications to the global trading pattern” of any policies we seek, not just ramifications to a particular bilateral relationship. In a trade dispute, the retaliation might occur in a different country and in a different sector than the one that is the subject of the initial dispute. We’ve seen that time and time again.

Said one manufacturer, after a full discussion of trade laws, “We don’t have the political leadership in this country that creates a climate for manufacturing.” He was talking about the 22% cost differential that we face vs. our trading partners in such areas as legal costs, energy costs, taxes, etc.

A very good and spirited discussion today on trade, among manufacturers who are the best in the world, large and small.