Playing Fair: Manufacturers Urge Action to Eliminate Global Trade Barriers

Manufacturers in the United States are continuing to expand sales at home and abroad, helping to support the growth in U.S. manufacturing production to record levels and increasing well-paying U.S. jobs. As exports fuel more than half of U.S. manufacturing production and more than half of U.S. manufacturing jobs, and as global trade in manufactured goods is already several multiples of U.S. production, manufacturers have lots of room to grow.

That is why manufacturers in the United States continue to call on our government to negotiate market-opening, high-standard and enforceable agreements and to take other actions to eliminate foreign trade barriers and weak standards overseas that are holding manufacturers back from even greater growth.

In a detailed written submission filed yesterday, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) called on the U.S. government to tackle trade barriers confronting manufacturers in a range of markets around the world. The NAM’s report details a wide variety of trade barriers that manufacturers across multiple sectors confront globally, including barriers that block U.S. exports, tilt the playing field in favor of domestic competitors and limit manufacturing jobs and growth here at home. While many of these barriers have been eliminated through strong and detailed free trade agreements, more work is necessary to expand those types of rules and to ensure that all countries are fully abiding by their international obligations.

Trade barriers confronting manufacturers vary widely, but include high import tariffs, discriminatory import and export policies, investment bans that hinder manufacturer efforts to export and sell to local customers, policies that seek to force companies to localize technology or operations or create special advantages for domestic players, weak intellectual property protection and enforcement and burdensome standards and technical regulations. These barriers occur in many countries around the world, with the NAM identifying more than 60 countries and regions in its report. India, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Russia marked the NAM’s “top five,” with Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Korea and Malaysia also featuring prominently throughout the report.

These barriers underscore the importance of a strategic, proactive trade agenda to open markets, knock down barriers and raise standards for manufacturers in the global economy, subject to strong enforcement rules. Concretely addressing these barriers and raising standards contributes directly to a fairer global trade environment for manufacturers and their workers here in the United States, supporting exports that help boost the ability of manufacturers to reach the 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of our borders.

Tackling these barriers involves a mix of strategies, including negotiating modern, high-standard trade agreements that further open trade and investment opportunities, fully enforcing existing agreements and modernizing U.S. trade tools consistent with U.S. international trading obligations to boost global competitiveness.

As U.S. manufacturing production and jobs continue to grow, now is the time to seize the opportunity to expand U.S. competitiveness globally through market-opening policies that will boost U.S. competitiveness and success.

Ryan Ong

Ryan Ong

Ryan Ong is the Director for International Business Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), where he works with NAM member companies to develop and advocate the association’s positions and priorities on intellectual property, standards and regulatory concerns, and investment policy issues, as well as issues in China and India. Mr. Ong has on-the-ground experience on many of these issues in previous stints at the US-China Business Council and the Duke University's Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness.
Ryan Ong

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