The Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit widened substantially, up from $35.89 billion in February to $51.37 billion in March. This was the largest monthly trade deficit since October 2008, or roughly 6 1/2 years. There were two primary factors for this. First, goods imports soared for the month, up from $181.27 billion to $197.63 billion. To be fair, however, the February figure was exceptionally low, with March’s value essentially equal to the 2014 goods imports average of $197.58 billion. The larger factor was on the goods exports side. Goods exports rose from $125.59 billion to $127.07 billion, not enough to counteract the gain in imports. Moreover, goods exports in March were well below the 2014 average of $136.26 billion, helping to explain the large shift in the headline trade deficit number over the past few months. Indeed, sluggish growth abroad and a stronger U.S. dollar have combined to present a major headwind for manufacturers seeking to grow demand overseas. (continue reading…)
It’s National Small Business Week and we will be highlighting stories each day about the issues that small manufacturers face. Check our website, www.nam.org/Advocacy/National-Small-Business-Week, as we share stories on addressing the skills gap, working with the Export-Import Bank to reach new markets, fighting for common-sense regulatory reform, and advocating for strong Trade Promotion Authority legislation that helps small exporters compete globally.
— Nat Assoc of Mfg (@ShopFloorNAM) May 4, 2015
Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report:
The U.S. economy stagnated in the first quarter, with real GDP growing by just 0.2 percent. This compares to a consensus estimate of 1.1 percent, and it was lower than the 5.0 percent and 2.2 percent growth rates observed in the third and fourth quarters of 2014, respectively. As one might expect from a data point that is just shy of zero, the underlying contributions to growth were mixed. Net exports and government spending were drags on activity in the first quarter, particularly with headwinds from a stronger dollar. Consumer spending on goods and nonresidential fixed investment were also weak, with the latter experiencing sharp declines stemming from the energy market and its supply chain. The bright spots—to the extent that you could call them that—were service-sector spending and a rebound in inventories. (continue reading…)
Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative released its annual Special 301 report which analyzes the state of intellectual property rights (IPR) among U.S. trading partners and also marks the first full review of India’s IPR regime since Prime Minister Modi took office. As in past reports, USTR once again placed India on the Priority Watch List due to ongoing concerns with the country’s lack of protections for innovators.
The report confirms that, despite ongoing dialogues and increasingly strong statements from Prime Minister Modi regarding his commitment to increasing protections for innovators in India, there has been no actual concrete action to improve IP protections. USTR expects ongoing dialogues to “bring about substantive and measurable improvements in India’s IPR regime for the benefit of a broad range of innovative and creative industries” and will “take further action, if necessary.”
As the NAM explained in its Special 301 comments filed in advance of the report, there are many areas where there has been dialogue, but no real improvement to India’s IPR policies including patent and data protection, compulsory licensing, and copyright piracy. This lack of progress and backward action in a number of areas from IPR to localization policies was also detailed just last week in the NAM’s pre pre-hearing statement filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission, which is conducting a second investigation into India’s trade and investment practices and their input on U.S. industries. These policy failures have a significant impact on businesses’ ability to innovate, create jobs, and grow the economy.
But businesses and industry leaders are not the only ones taking notice of India’s lack of progress in IPR and market-opening measures. India’s policies are impacting their global image as a country committed to innovation as reflected in India’s decline in various innovation and other measures. U.S. lawmakers are also taking note of the lack of concrete improvement in IPR in the country.
The NAM is committed to increasing commercial ties through a fair and more open trading relationship with India. To achieve that type of relationship – and for India to grow its economy and become the innovation leader it seeks to be – there must be more than talk and vague promises. It is time for India to take measures to bring its IPR regime up to global standards, to respect private property and innovation and seek to grow its economy through encouraging trade and investment.
From soccer matches in Europe to Monday Night Football in the United States, referees are a critical component of competitive sports, acting as an impartial party that ensures rules are followed by members of both teams. For small and large manufacturers, Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions fill this this critical role of referee, ensuring that basic rules of due process, non-discrimination, fair treatment and property protection. In short, ISDS ensures fair play in the global economy.
Manufacturers typically make the vast majority of their investments domestically. Yet, just as companies from Europe, Asia, Latin America and beyond invest in America to reach the American consumer, many U.S. manufacturers also need to invest overseas to sell more successfully to the 95 percent of consumers that live outside our borders. By reaching millions of new customers overseas, U.S. investment overseas helps strengthen America’s manufacturing base, spurring approximately 50 percent of U.S. exports and supporting higher-paying American jobs, R&D and capital investment. When companies investment overseas, some 90 percent of their sales stay outside the United States. (continue reading…)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that net employment growth slowed in the third quarter of 2014, according to the latest Business Employment Dynamics (BED) data. Manufacturers had gross job gains of 404,000 in the third quarter, with 365,000 from expanding establishments and 39,000 from new establishments. At the same time, there were gross job losses of 389,000 workers in the quarter, with 349,000 from contracting establishments and 40,000 from closing establishments. Therefore, there was a net employment change of 15,000 for the manufacturing sector in the third quarter, down from 72,000 in the second quarter. Still, net hiring among manufacturers has now been positive for seven consecutive months, averaging roughly 28,500 per quarter over that time frame. (continue reading…)
The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) reported decelerated growth in its latest Business Conditions Survey. The net percentage of respondents saying that their profit margins had increased over the past three months dropped from 24 percent in January to 10 percent in April, reflecting both weaker demand and higher costs. On the positive side, sales continue to expand, just at a slightly eased pace. This is especially true in the goods-producing sectors, which had half of those taking the survey say that their sales were higher in the quarter. Yet, 56 percent of respondents noted that slower growth in China had negatively impacted their businesses, with two –thirds saying that a stronger U.S. dollar had made a negative “material impact” on them. (continue reading…)
Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report:
Manufacturing production increased 0.1 percent in March. This followed three months of weaker data, including declines in both January and February. There have been some significant headwinds hitting the manufacturing sector over the past few months, including a strong U.S. dollar, weakened economic markets abroad, lower crude oil prices, the West Coast ports slowdown and weather. These challenges have slowed activity in the sector since November. The latest Beige Book discussed these headwinds. The year-over-year pace of manufacturing production in March was 2.4 percent, down from 4.5 percent in November. Meanwhile, total industrial production, which includes mining and utilities, fell 0.6 percent in March, declining for the third time in the past four months. As such, the data suggest manufacturers have started the new year on a very soft note despite optimism for better demand and output moving forward. (continue reading…)
With today’s introduction of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) have demonstrated strong bipartisan, bicameral leadership on an issue that is critical to American leadership globally and the ability of manufacturers and their workers in the United States to compete more successfully for the approximately $12 trillion in manufactured goods traded internationally.
TPA is a longstanding and proven procedural partnership between Congress and the Executive Branch that facilitates negotiation and approval of trade agreements that open markets for manufacturers in the United States. It enables Congress to set trade negotiating objectives and increases Congress’s power to shape and influence deals. (continue reading…)
The Census Bureau said that retail sales rebounded in March after declining in each of the previous 3 months. Retail spending rose 0.9 percent in March, with strong growth in motor vehicle and parts sales (up 2.7 percent) helping to lift the overall figure. Excluding motor vehicle and parts, retail sales were up 0.4 percent, still a modest growth rate. (continue reading…)