Negotiations for revising and modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) begin today, and American manufacturing workers whose jobs are dependent on exports are watching closely.
NAFTA went into effect in 1994, and since then, the United States has sold three times as much to Canada and Mexico. In 2016, the two countries alone purchased one-fifth of all manufactured goods made in the United States. This is a big deal for manufacturing workers and their families because those sales support jobs here at home—a lot of well-paying jobs. Sales of manufactured goods to Canada and Mexico, made possible through NAFTA, support the jobs of more than 2 million manufacturing workers.
When someone says that we need to abandon NAFTA to support manufacturing workers, they have the facts backward. It’s certainly true that NAFTA could use some improvements. After all, it’s more than 20 years old. A tune-up, if done right, could help, especially if it’s focused on eliminating remaining barriers to selling U.S. goods, raising standards to U.S. levels, cutting red tape and improving existing enforcement tools.
Those would be steps in the right direction. However, we should not blame manufacturing’s challenges over the past few decades on NAFTA. NAFTA has been a powerful tool to strengthen our industry and help manufacturers in the United States nearly double our production. It’s other policies that have held us back and discouraged investment in the United States—policies like our outdated tax code and our overreaching, complicated regulatory system. Our declining, deteriorating infrastructure has also hurt the industry and our workers.
So as negotiators sit down this week and again in the coming weeks to determine what NAFTA will look like in the future, I urge them to stick to the facts and help manufacturers build on the agreement’s accomplishments to improve, not weaken, America’s global competitiveness. Manufacturers will continue advocating a stronger, modernized NAFTA so that we can keep growing and thriving here in America.
Later today, I’ll join President Donald Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt for an “Energy Week” event at the Department of Energy headquarters here in Washington, D.C.
President Trump is expected to give a speech on American energy independence and “dominance.” This is the kind of leadership manufacturers want to see.
Access to affordable, reliable and diverse energy sources is essential to growing manufacturing in the United States. It’s about more than keeping the lights on; it’s about powering the heart of the American economy.
Manufacturing accounts for roughly one-third of all the energy consumed in the United States. If you make energy more abundant, you make it easier for companies of all sizes to expand their operations in the United States—and to hire more workers. There is a direct line between American energy access—or “dominance,” as the president puts it—and creating new jobs for Americans.
Over the years, manufacturers have produced the innovative new technologies that have allowed us to harness new sources of energy—and to improve our sustainability and make our energy use more efficient. Today’s access to affordable and diverse energy was unthinkable 20 or even 10 years ago. Now it’s time to build on that success.
Across this country, voters and elected leaders want to see the growth of manufacturing in the United States. If you support manufacturing, then you should support the continued development of American energy. Manufacturers use all forms of energy—oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewables. America should lead the world in the development and deployment of all these energy forms.
Learn more about manufacturers’ energy agenda here.
Manufacturers support efforts to achieve normal trade relations with Cuba and to share with the Cuban people the values that make, and keep, America exceptional: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity. While today’s announcement will add some hurdles for Americans interested in trade and travel to Cuba, manufacturers appreciate the president’s acknowledgment that our commercial and diplomatic engagement can support the ambitions of the Cuban people. We look forward to expanding investment and opportunity in Cuba.
Isolating the Cuban people has not yielded a new day for freedom and democracy in the island nation just miles from our shores. But eased restrictions on travel to Cuba and U.S. manufacturing exports to the Cuban private sector has made it simpler for Americans to engage with Cuban citizens, as it did when a group of National Association of Manufacturers leaders traveled to Cuba recently, and to support the growth of private enterprise in Cuba. We saw, in even a short time, the potential for normalized diplomatic relations not only to create economic benefits in both nations but also to bring freedom and democracy to Cuba and its people.
Most important in the near term is the strategic value of rapprochement with Cuba, to counter the growing influence of China and Russia in the region. During our visit, for example, a Russian oil tanker with 249,000 barrels of refined product arrived in Cuba for the first time this century. It brought back memories of when the Soviet Union supplied all of the communist country’s needs. Instead of allowing the hand of friendship to come from communist governments and those with a different set of values, we can demonstrate the strength of democratic values and the free market system through a robust trading partnership.
We look forward to the day, as much as anyone, when the Castro regime ends. But ultimately real change will only happen when the Cuban people can take charge of their own destinies and entrepreneurs can create their own opportunities.
If you are going to get cut off during an interview, it might as well be for the president of the United States.
Just before President Donald Trump discussed his vision to modernize America’s infrastructure and continue to support manufacturers in the United States, I joined Stuart Varney on “Fox Business” to offer the perspective of our nation’s 12 million manufacturers on the urgent need to advance infrastructure investment and remove job-crushing regulations.
As I told Stu, the bottom line is that the American people want to get things done. Manufacturers are encouraged that the president is getting things done, incorporating elements of the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) “Building to Win” strategy, and we hope Washington comes together to get a big, jobs-first, trillion-dollar infrastructure plan done.
There’s a reason 93 percent of the NAM’s members recently surveyed are optimistic about their outlook on their economy—a 20-year record high. It’s because President Trump is not just delivering speeches like he did today. He’s listening to manufacturers and putting actions behind his words—to create jobs and lift standards of living for everyone.
Manufacturers in the United States produce great products desired across the globe each and every day. But our single greatest export remains America’s values—values which include free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity as well as a willingness to lead by example.
That has never been clearer to me than it was during my recent trip to Cuba when I took eight manufacturers there to engage in discussions with government officials and engage in a dialogue with the Cuban people.
Times have changed. The tense days of Kennedy, Castro and the Cuban missile crisis are behind us. I witnessed a nation in transition, whose citizens want to adapt their economy and expand their opportunities.
The decision to normalize diplomatic relations with that isolated island was controversial in some quarters, but a recent national survey found that nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults favor ending the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. They also favor lifting the restrictions on travel to the island. Based on what I saw during my visit, clearly the time is right for positive interactions between the United States and Cuba.
Economic engagement will benefit both countries. But in the case of Cuba, it will launch its citizens on a trajectory of greater prosperity, opportunity and freedom.
To get there, we need to do more.
Just 90 miles from the United States, Cuba is well-positioned to become a market for U.S. goods and services. With normalized trade, American exports of goods to Cuba could reach an estimated $4 billion per year.
While the United States has eased some of the restrictions on travel, trade and investment, lifting them completely is up to Congress.
The U.S. government has made allowances for some exports to Cuba and issued changes to facilitate authorized travel to the island. There remains, however, a long road ahead for both countries to expand trade and investment opportunities.
Manufacturers are committed to sharing with the Cuban people American values that will enrich the lives of all. Congress needs to listen and to take action by repealing the trade embargo and lifting restrictions on travel once and for all.
The Cuban government should reciprocate by allowing U.S. companies to trade directly with the emerging Cuban private sector and by continuing market-oriented reforms that facilitate foreign investment.
I encourage you to communicate with your representatives in Washington. Expanded economic engagement means new opportunities for us and greater prosperity and freedom for Cubans. It is time to demonstrate our American values in action.
Great news out of Houston today. Exxon Mobil Corporation announced it will be investing in manufacturing jobs in Texas and Louisiana—to the tune of $20 billion over 10 years. This announcement is important because it demonstrates the connection between domestic energy production and manufacturing. These investments will lead to the creation of thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs, and it’s all made possible thanks to the domestic energy revolution.
Manufacturers depend on affordable, accessible energy to power their operations and as a raw material. Without the expanded domestic energy production of recent years, an announcement like today’s wouldn’t be possible. Across the United States, manufacturers are being empowered to expand and grow because of access to affordable energy, and America’s energy industry is boosting manufacturing jobs in the United States.
Since 2011, the National Association of Manufacturers has released a series of economic reports all showing that if the United States develops its vast energy resources, manufacturing will grow. Today’s announcement is a sign of what’s possible and a reminder that the future is bright if we continue to invest in energy development and infrastructure in the United States.
Read more about Exxon’s exciting announcement here.
The 2017 State of Manufacturing Tour launches today in Austin, Texas! This is manufacturers’ moment to tell our story and leverage the national enthusiasm for our industry.
From Texas, we will travel to New York, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If you can’t join us in person, you can still follow the action and help amplify the message.
We want to show the country the true story of modern manufacturing and the incredible, rewarding careers we offer.
Follow along with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to use #StateofMFG. We are excited to join with manufacturers, business leaders, elected officials and students from across the country to share the promise of manufacturing’s future and our commitment to “be the solution” for the challenges facing our communities and our country.
See you on the tour!
Thank you, Mr. President. Manufacturers welcome the president’s swift move to provide no new burdens to the onslaught of regulations we have endured these past eight years. One after another, regulations—on everything from health care and energy to workplace conversations—have made keeping our doors open harder and harder.
Today’s announcements are great first steps, and we hope this is a sign of more positive actions to come.
If you’re following debates in the Senate, you may have heard Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and others refer to one important piece of pending legislation, the 21st Century Cures Act, as “corrupt” and “dangerous.”
Well, she certainly got my attention. But what is really alarming is that Sen. Warren’s attack is baseless. In fact, the effort to derail the 21st Century Cures Act is what is really dangerous—and alarming.
Manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceuticals save lives and improve the human condition. Their breakthroughs in scientific advances and technological innovations create jobs for scientists and researchers as well as machinists and those on the manufacturing line.
Their work is essential to both the health of our families and our economy.
Unfortunately, due to an outdated federal device and drug approval process, manufacturers in the United States face burdensome costs and unnecessary delays in the development of innovative, lifesaving products.
The 21st Century Cures legislation works to address these challenges. It will modernize our approach to the discovery, development and delivery of medical innovations to ensure that the United States maintains its rightful position of leadership in the global economy at a time when foreign competitors are catching up.
This bill, which represents a bipartisan negotiation in the House and Senate, has been significantly debated over the past two years. The act focuses on important investments in basic research that will lead to further advancement in the development of treatments and products, help fight diseases and other chronic conditions and allow for small business flexibility to provide health care options to employees.
In addition, the legislation also includes a fix to the Affordable Care Act that will allow small businesses to use Health Reimbursement Arrangements to provide health care options for their employees, a practice that is currently heavily fined by the IRS.
Attempts to call this effort “corrupt” and “dangerous” are baseless and more about making points based on political rhetoric, completely ignoring the positive and much needed provisions of the legislation.
Too much progress is at stake. Americans should hold Sen. Warren accountable for attempting to hold up these much needed medical advances—all to score political points.