The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) kicked off its week at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) today. Just as we did in Tampa, we are partnering with Politico, and today we hosted an event featuring a number of top policymakers who are attending the DNC.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell joined Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina and former Rep. Susan Molinari, who is now a government affairs executive with Google, at the Politico Hub. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer also participated, as did Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors.
The panelists gave a nod to manufacturing as a bright spot in the economic recovery, but news this morning once again demonstrated that we have a lot of work ahead of us. Manufacturing contracted in August, the third month in a row. Reflecting on the global economic uncertainty, Goolsbee commented, “Most any country in the world would rather have our problems.”
But that is little consolation to the 8.3 percent of Americans who are unemployed, and the millions more who are underemployed. The United States did not achieve its economic leadership by default—because our competitors were worse off. We did so by out-innovating and out-working them, feats made possible by our system of free enterprise.
One tenet of free enterprise is free trade, and a topic that came up repeatedly during the panel discussion today was trade. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. Reaching these customers is critical for manufacturers’ growth, yet obstacles stand in the way of increased exports.
For one, many nations have tariffs or other trade barriers that make products from the U.S. less competitive. The U.S. can help bring these barriers down through free trade agreements. But right now, out of the dozens of trade pacts being negotiated around the world, the U.S. is party to just one.
Revitalizing the nation’s trade agenda is one part of a pro-growth plan to strengthen manufacturing and grow jobs and the economy. The NAM has an agenda that will lead the way.