This week, I had the privilege of attending Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade show for industrial technology. This was my third year traveling to Germany for the event, along with a delegation of several NAM members, and this year was certainly special as the United States was the official partner country.
With more than 5,000 exhibitors, Hannover is an impressive demonstration of the power and ingenuity of manufacturers worldwide. This year was our chance to take center stage and show the world the innovation revolution that manufacturers are leading in America—and to create opportunities to reach the 95 percent of customers who live outside the United States, which is critical in today’s global economy.
The NAM was proud to be a sponsor and partner with the U.S. Department of Commerce to ensure that U.S. manufacturers had an impressive showing and that manufacturing was a central focus for the many members of the administration, including the president, who attended.
The show officially kicked off at the Sunday afternoon opening ceremonies. President Barack Obama became the first president to attend the event, and he joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel to welcome the world to the 69th Hannover Messe. The two world leaders not only shared a stage for their remarks; they also shared a united cause—to strengthen manufacturing.
Following the opening ceremonies, I joined President Obama and Chancellor Merkel at the Schloss Herrenhausen for an engaging discussion with global business leaders centered on promoting robust economic growth and a joint commitment to expanding trade opportunities.
With President Obama and members of his administration on the ground for the trade show, the trip was also a chance to advance many of manufacturers’ top priorities. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is one of the strongest advocates for manufacturers in America, and I am proud that we were able to work so closely with her and her great team.
At the top of the list of priorities for this trip was the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would join the United States and the European Union (EU) in the largest economic and trade partnership. We were able to discuss TTIP multiple times with U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Mike Froman and Deputy USTR Michael Punke and brought our delegation to meet with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, emphasizing the importance of strong and ambitious outcomes, including a strong shared standard, to benefit manufacturers of all sizes on both sides of the Atlantic. (Read more from NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey here.)
A common theme during our conversations with everyone in Hannover, including U.S., German and EU policymakers, manufacturers large and small and our European business advocacy partners, was how best we can win the “war on trade.” In the face of increasing populist rhetoric on the campaign trail in the United States and a vocal protest wave in Europe, we need to work closely together to explain what TTIP is and how it will create new opportunities for manufacturers, improve growth in our communities and benefit our families. Manufacturers must tell our story of the transformative impact that the agreement will have in new ways to cut through the myths propagated by many NGO and activist groups.
Trade is essential to manufacturers’ success, as it allows us to reach the customers living outside our borders—the very customers exploring the modern technology and impressive products on display at Hannover.
Monday was a packed day, touring the facilities, exploring the exhibits, talking with U.S. and European officials and meeting with U.S. manufacturers and friends who had also crossed the Atlantic for the event.
Any visitor would come away with a clear sense that modern manufacturing is vastly different from our past. It’s sleek, high-tech and changing at a rapid pace. Even in just three years, I’ve witnessed dramatic advances in the technology on display at Hannover.
I joined U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews for a live Facebook chat about what we had witnessed, the importance of trade and the promise of modern manufacturing and the Internet of Things.
At a business summit on the fairgrounds, President Obama and Chancellor Merkel were joined by U.S. and German CEOs and officials, including Secretary Pritzker, to discuss the future of transatlantic economic relations. Unsurprisingly, this was a recurring theme throughout the trip—and for good reason!
Tuesday morning, I was grateful for the chance to talk with Siemens employees and customers at their exhibit. Siemens has been a fantastic partner in preparing for Hannover Messe, and it was great to see many of their innovative solutions on display.
As I said in my remarks, “When you look around this impressive venue, there’s no doubt the world is changing—and changing for the better. Manufacturers are leading the way and driving this change every day. But there’s something that doesn’t change. Manufacturers are still improving our world, offering hope and opportunity through the people we employ, the lives we touch and the products we make.”
Before departing, I led a roundtable discussion with Secretary Pritzker on how we win the battle on trade. We were joined by NAM member companies—Liberty Pumps, UL, UPS and Texas Instruments—as well as leading European advocacy groups and the German officials. Expanding opportunities to sell our products overseas means winning the battle for jobs in the United States!
As always, I left Hannover energized and proud of our industry. There’s always work to do, and we must continue to take our message to our elected officials so that the right policies are in place for our success. But there should be no doubt: manufacturers continue to lead the world by creating solutions and building the future.