As Members of the 114th Congress descend on Washington for orientation, and the 113th Congress convenes for the upcoming lame duck session, manufacturers stand ready to work with our leaders to advance policies that will enable us to continue to grow and create jobs. Manufacturers believe that now is the time to set aside the differences that have resulted in gridlock, and focus on the pro-growth policies that brought voters to the polls. Simply put, it is time to govern and grow. (continue reading…)
Today we mark the sixth anniversary of TransCanada’s first application seeking a Presidential permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the United States. For most of the past six years this project has been with the administration awaiting final approval, with five different environmental reviews conducted and thousands of pages of reports and public comments collected.
Much has happened since the initial permit application was filed in 2008: more than 10,000 miles of oil and natural gas pipeline has been built in the U.S.; Fidel Castro stepped down as President of Cuba; two new countries were created Kosovo and South Sudan; four Olympic games have been held (Vancouver, Beijing, London and Sochi); and Apple released the IPhone 3, 4, 5 and now 6.
For further context on how this delay stacks up in the history books, just look at the array of larger and more complex projects built in a shorter time frame. For example, the 800 mile long Trans Alaska pipeline took just over two years to build. The iconic Hoover Dam was erected in just five years, the Empire State Building in just over one year, and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in less than five years.
The debate over Keystone is not just about ensuring we have a steady source of energy from a reliable trading partner; it’s also about jobs and the economy. The State Department says the project will create 42,000 jobs and add $3.4 billion to the GDP, jobs and economic growth that manufacturers and other workers desperately need.
Although there’s not much to celebrate, the NAM is marking this occasion with the release of a new video highlighting the facts about Keystone:
Today the House voted to pass H.R. 5021, Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014. NAM sent a Key Vote letter in support of the legislation that will replenish the Highway Trust Fund and avoid the August low balance scenario that is threatening approximately 100,000 road, bridge and transit construction sites and 700,000 jobs across the country.
The legislation also authorizes an extension of critical federal highway and transit programs for eight months after the current authorization expires on September 30.
NAM worked with over 60 manufacturing associations around the nation to help echo the message to Congress that fixing the Highway Trust Fund cannot be left to chance and Congress must accomplish this before August recess. Manufacturers are leading the debate and urged Congress to make it this month’s priority to restore the Highway Trust Fund to a condition of solvency.
The White House hosted a timely meeting last week on infrastructure that included Vice President Biden and a diverse range of corporate leaders from manufacturing, construction, trucking and other industries.
NAM Board Chair and Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman and NAM member and BNSF Executive Chairman Matt Rose helped lead a conversation on globally competitive infrastructure with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and White House National Economic Council Director Jeffrey Zients. Click here for Oberhelman’s op-ed, “Congress Must Move on Highway Trust Fund,” in The Hill.
NAM Member Chris Toomey, Senior Vice President of Procurement for global manufacturer BASF was among several other NAM members who traveled to Washington for this special session. Toomey encouraged participants to look at advocacy for better infrastructure as supportive of economic growth, citing growing manufacturing investments in the Gulf Coast that will require competitive infrastructure.
The Senate is expected to consider H.R. 5021 next week.
There is still much work to be done. Passing a fully funded, multi-year surface transportation is the next order of business for improving infrastructure. Manufacturers are making the case that investing in infrastructure supports competitiveness, growth and jobs.
As the House and Senate wrap up their work in advance of a Fourth of July recess and Americans prepare for Independence Day celebrations, a looming crisis threatens work at 100,000 transportation construction sites and 700,000 jobs around the country. While summer construction projects can be inconvenient to travelers, modernizing our roads, bridges and transit systems is critically important to our safety, efficiency and global competitiveness. It would be far worse if the construction work never took place or even ceased temporarily.
Unfortunately, the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) which supplies needed funding to states and localities is running on fumes and will no longer be able to meet its fiscal obligations to the states in August, further threatening jobs and continued economic recovery. All at a time when our infrastructure continues to age and deteriorate, confirmed by a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers. This is not a time to cut back or postpone for a later date to solve.
Congress only has a few weeks to replenish the fund when it returns from its break or work will stop at these 100,000 construction sites. It’s good news that leaders from the Senate Committee on Finance and House Committee on Ways and Means are coming together to start these important conversations about improving the fiscal health of the HTF. Manufacturers encourage the House and Senate to achieve bipartisan solutions that will improve the balance of the Highway Trust Fund as we seek a well-funded multiyear surface transportation authorization.
Manufacturers need competitive infrastructure to thrive in today’s global economy. Our infrastructure is out of date and resting on a legacy built by previous generations. Manufacturers responded to an infrastructure survey conducted by the NAM and the Building America’s Future Educational Fund last year. Two-thirds doubt that our infrastructure is position to respond to the competitive demands of a growing economy. Worse, 70 percent reported that roads are getting worse.
This issue goes far beyond state transportation departments and road builders. When construction is put on hold, manufacturing is on hold too.
Administration Takes Important First Step in Transportation Authorization; Manufacturers Emphasize Need to Restore Trust Fund to Solvency Soon
The Obama Administration’s four-year, $302 billion Grow America Act sets the stage for the next surface transportation authorization as the balance of the Highway Trust Fund continues to decline and the current authorization, MAP-21 expires on September 30.
However, relying on tax reform to pay for this significant infrastructure investment is a risky endeavor. While the long-term approach to funding and the commitment to improve the environmental permitting and review process are appreciated by manufacturers who need significant transit, highway and bridge investments to keep operations efficient in the United States, efforts to return the Highway Trust Fund to a state of solvency before the end of August must remain a priority focus of Congress and the Administration in the coming weeks ahead.
The Administration has laid out a thoughtful blueprint that will enable states and localities to move forward with significant infrastructure projects that require multiyear funding. While the details of the proposal need to be fully examined and assessed, the next few months will provide critical opportunities for important exchanges between Congress and stakeholders as September 30th nears. Manufacturers look forward to participating in these ongoing discussions.
The President’s visit to Asia this week should highlight the value of strengthening trade and investment ties and identifying areas for increased commerce and cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. We believe that increased American economic and commercial engagement in the Asia-Pacific is critical unlocking numerous growth opportunities for manufacturers in the United States. The Asia-Pacific represents a huge market with an even greater growth potential that we hope the President’s trip can help catalyze.
Already, the Asia-Pacific region is a strong and growing purchaser of U.S. manufactured goods. Three of the top ten export destinations for U.S. manufactured goods are in Asia (China, Japan and South Korea). Total U.S. manufactured goods exports to Asia grew from $213.25 billion in 2009 to more than $331.56 billion in 2013. More specifically, transportation equipment exports from the United States to Asia nearly doubled from $30.21 billion in 2009 to just over $60 billion last year. Computer and electronic product exports also grew from roughly $55.61 billion in 2009 to $67.08 billion in 2013. Chemical exports to Asia also increased by $13.4 billion over the last five years.
Yet the potential for greater growth for manufacturers in the United States is substantial The Asia-Pacific region boasts nearly 60 percent of global GDP and is the fastest growing region in the global economy. The Asia-Pacific also makes up roughly half of the world’s population, making it a market ripe for more U.S. export growth.
To boost manufacturers’ export and sales opportunities in the region, more work is needed to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers, expand commercial relationships and ensure our trading partners play by the rules of the international trading system. The United States is seeking to negotiate a comprehensive, high standard and market-opening Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that would include our Asia-Pacific partners (Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam) along with several Western Hemisphere partners (Canada, Chile, Mexico and Peru). The United States is also negotiating a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with China, and efforts are underway to expand relationships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). More broadly, the United States has cooperated with 20 of our Asia-Pacific trading partners through the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to expand economic ties and develop stronger frameworks in numerous areas, from trade in environmental goods and transparency to creating a stronger enabling environment for infrastructure investment. At the same time, though, there are over 130 other trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific that exclude the United States and put manufacturers at a substantial disadvantage in other Asian markets.
To move successful trade negotiations forward and eliminate the competitive disadvantage that manufacturers in the United States face in many Asian markets, enactment of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is critical. Both the President and Congress need to work closely together to move a strong TPA bill. In January, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act was introduced to facilitate the negotiation and implementation of comprehensive and ambitious trade agreements and require intensive consultations throughout the negotiating process. Despite repeated calls by manufacturers and the broader business community, no further action has been taken on this or any other TPA legislation. To grow substantial new commercial opportunities in the Asia-Pacific, action on TPA is critical.
As Commerce Secretary Pritzker so aptly stated in a speech last week at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies: “We can act now to advance American values and interests in setting the rules for trade in a region representing 40 percent of the world’s economy, or we can let others with different values and interests take the lead.” Manufacturers agree that the time is now for the United States to lead in this region, where significant growth opportunities are awaiting U.S. exporters.
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons today urged Congress to fulfill its well-established responsibility of facilitating commerce in the United States by returning to a fully-funded, multiyear surface transportation authorization.
Testifying before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Timmons highlighted the importance of the nation’s transportation network to manufacturers across the country, “Manufacturers rely on our nation’s vast interconnected network of roads, railways, airports, inland waterways and ports to support and supply every sector of the economy.”
Timmons was joined by a diverse group of panelists all advocating for a new surface transportation bill, including Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Mike Hancock of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and Dr. T. Peter Ruane of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
During his testimony, Timmons also highlighted a survey sponsored by the NAM and Building America’s Future that highlights manufacturers’ concerns about America’s roads and bridges, transit and aviation systems and ports. According to the survey of more than 400 manufacturers, a majority believe American infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, while roads in particular are getting worse.
For NAM members, access to a reliable and cost-effective transportation network by land, sea and air is critical to reaching customers here and abroad. To view Timmons’ opening statement, click here. To view the entire hearing, click here.
The President has been a consistent advocate for increased investment in America’s infrastructure and we appreciate the President’s continued attention to the deteriorating condition of our roads, bridges, transit systems, airports, ports and inland waterways. Like the President, manufacturers recognize that America’s infrastructure is resting on a legacy of past investments that have created great economic advantages and it is now time to reverse the deteriorating condition of our nation’s infrastructure.
This is not something that can be accomplished in a year, two years or even with a quick infusion of funding to supplement ongoing infrastructure investments. Manufacturers are eager for Congress and the Administration to work together to develop a long-term investment strategy that will make smart and strategic infrastructure investments designed to enhance our global competitiveness. While the NAM supports the President’s call to streamline environmental reviews and expedite infrastructure project delivery, the proposal to use savings from tax reform as a means to direct additional investments in infrastructure complicates efforts to overhaul our tax code and distracts from the goal of achieving a sustainable stream of funding for our nation’s surface transportation network.
Over the next few months, manufacturers encourage the President to engage in a robust conversation about long-term transportation funding by putting his Administration’s weight behind an effort to return the Highway Trust Fund to solvency and pass a traditional multiyear surface transportation authorization before September 30, 2014 when MAP-21 expires. These are priority issues for manufacturers and the surface transportation authorization currently offers the best and most efficient method for ensuring stable and continuous investments in roads, bridges and transit systems.
U.S. surface transportation is failing to keep pace with the global marketplace, and it’s time to develop federal surface transportation reauthorization legislation that enhances our nation’s infrastructure system and enables manufacturers to compete globally. That was the message today from Caterpillar Group President Stu Levenick.
Levenick, who was testifying at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on building the foundation for the next Surface Transportation Reauthorization, focused on manufacturers’ need for expansion and modernization of our nation’s transportation network:
“Whether the export opportunities are in our hemisphere or on the other side of the world, the goods we seek to sell must travel through a multi-modal transportation system that includes roads, rail, water and air. America needs a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization so that we can begin to rebuild our infrastructure and get back on the road to competitiveness.”
This past September, the NAM released a survey of more than 400 manufacturers, which found a majority believe American infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, while roads in particular are getting worse. In his testimony, Levenick addressed how the current state of our infrastructure compares to our global competitors:
“While other parts of the world are integrating and modernizing their infrastructure to meet the economic challenges of the 21st century, we are failing to act comprehensively and decisively.”
Manufacturers will continue to rally support for broad-based, jobs-creating investment in upgrades, expansion and modernization of our nation’s transportation network.
Yesterday, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) President and CEO Jay Myers visited the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) headquarters in Washington, DC. CME is NAM’s Canadian sister organization and close partner in promoting the manufacturing agenda across both borders. The NAM Communications office sat down for a brief Q&A with Mr. Myers. Here are a few excerpts from the discussion.
NAM Communications: Can you tell us about the CME and its membership?
Mr. Myers: We are Canada’s largest industry trade association, representing over 10,000 members across Canada. We are Canada’s counterpart to the NAM and our job is to represent the interests of manufacturers operating in Canada, of course many of the companies are headquartered in the United States, which is one reason why we work so close with the NAM.
NAM Communications: Can you tell us about how the CME and the NAM work together in both countries?
Mr. Myers: We’ve had a long-standing relationship with the NAM that continues to grow closer and closer as we deal with energy issues, cross border issues, regulatory cooperation issues, and trade policy. It used to be that the NAM and CME were talking about how to build a free trade environment between the United States and Canada, and now it’s about how we take that great model that we developed here with NAFTA and apply to it grow business around the world, get access to new markets, and make sure we’ve got a competitive energy infrastructure base here in North America.
NAM Communications: What does the Keystone project mean to Canadian manufacturers and to the Canadian economy in General?
Mr. Myers: Keystone is a very strategic issue for the Canadian economy. It’s about the ability to supply oil from Western Canada to not only one of the world’s largest markets, but also to the refineries that have been set up to handle that market on the Gulf Coast. Without Keystone, the oil coming out of Western Canada is kept from entering this major market, and there are really only two other alternatives. In Canada, because we need access to international markets, pipelines will be built east and west. If pipelines are going to the Pacific, the oil may possibly go the West Coast of the United States, but more likely to China. Likewise, pipelines are being built to Eastern Canada, and that oil is going to Europe. Unfortunately, this issue has become politicized. Clearly, if Keystone is turned down, it’s going to be very difficult to go ahead with any major north-south pipeline. Again, it’s a very important strategic issue for the Canadian economy. I don’t think people truly appreciate the chill that turning down Keystone will put on the Canadian’s economic relationship with the United States. For investment generally, it’s going to be very important that we see that pipeline succeed.
Approval and construction of the Keystone pipeline is a priority for manufacturers, and Mr. Myer’s comments illustrate exactly why this project goes beyond energy security and new jobs. It’s about fostering an environment in which economic growth and continued global competition can take place. As noted by Mr. Myers, denial of the Keystone pipeline would do just the opposite by chilling Canadian and U.S. economic relations.