U.S. economic engagement in the Asia Pacific is critical to growth in the United States. With over 57 percent of world GDP, this region is vital both as an export and investment market but also as a partner in global supply and production chains and partnerships.
On the positive side, manufacturers throughout the United States are actively pursuing new opportunities in the region. Companies as diverse as UL and FedEx to Eli Lilly and Caterpillar are actively engaging in cross-border commerce that helps sustain and grow jobs and business operations back in the United States. In addition, the U.S. government is pursuing important economic initiatives, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership talks with eleven Asia Pacific partners and separate investment negotiations with China. Both of these negotiations aim to level the playing field, break down barriers to commerce and boost manufacturers’ competitiveness in the burgeoning Asia Pacific region.
Headwinds abound, however, with the stiff competition manufacturers face in a tough global economy. Unfortunately, the U.S. government is also working at cross purposes through new proposals that will hold our manufacturers back and limit American competitiveness.
As I listened to Prime Minister Abe of Japan discussing his country’s commitment to helping supply Indonesia’s needs to double electricity generation, I was struck by the U.S. government’s stifling of similar opportunities for manufacturers in the United States. While Prime Minister Abe was touting the ability of Japanese industry to supply new technologies to increase the combustion efficiency of coal-fired power generation, U.S. manufacturers have been presented with new proposed guidelines out of the Ex-Im Bank that will completely deny export financing for their participation in similar power generation projects. The NAM will be weighing in strongly to make sure we don’t cede more markets overseas.
With $8 trillion in infrastructure investment needed throughout the Asia Pacific over the next ten years, manufacturers need policies that help open markets and secure new opportunities, not those like new restrictions on export financing that undermine American competitiveness now and long into the future.
Linda Dempsey, the NAM’s Vice President of International Economic Affairs, is blogging from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Bali, Indonesia.