Manufacturers Disappointed in Lack of Concrete Progress in U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

The United States and India have much to gain by growing their commercial relationship given the relatively low-levels of trade and investment that characterize a relationship that many agree is underperforming. This year’s second Strategic & Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) was an opportunity to move beyond the improved dialogue that has characterized the U.S.-India relationship since Prime Minister Modi took office more than two years ago and into concrete action.

Unfortunately, the just-released U.S.-India Joint Statement marking the conclusion of this year’s dialogue has little to cheer. The NAM and others had urged the two governments to use dialogue to drive concrete deliverables. Yet this dialogue’s “outcomes,” if they can be so labeled, are heavy on cooperation, collaboration and further discussions, but no concrete movement on issues that matter to a wide swath of manufacturers in the United States.  There was, for instance, no renunciation by India of its WTO-violative actions, such as increased information technology tariffs and discriminatory localization measures on solar energy and other manufactured goods. There were no concrete deliverables announced on the protection of intellectual property and little substance on innovation. And while India has moved up on the Innovation Index, India still is in the bottom half of the rankings, behind its key Asian competitors.

As the United States prepares for its next major dialogue with India – the Trade Policy Forum – in October, manufacturers urge outcomes that will make a tangible difference for their ability to do business with India.

Learn more about the NAM’s stance on U.S.-India trade relations by clicking here.


Talking is Good, but United States and India Should be Moving Beyond Just Words by Now

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Top U.S. officials are setting travel plans now for the second annual Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD), set for the week of August 28 in New Delhi. This year’s S&CD will be a litmus test for these dialogues, demonstrating whether they can show real progress on concrete issues impacting manufacturers in the United States, or just produce more talk. Read More

Canada in Crosshairs for Promise Utility Doctrine at Investor Dispute Hearing

By | Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, Shopfloor Legal, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Co-authored by Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Economic Affairs

Canada’s attempts to defend a questionable intellectual property approach have taken a hit in recent weeks as government experts faced scrutiny from a team of neutral international arbitrators, based on the official hearing transcripts released on August 3. These hearings are vitally important for a wide range of innovative manufacturing companies using patents or investing internationally.

During two weeks of International Court of Settlement for Investment Disputes (ICSID) hearings in late May and early June, Canadian officials and experts faced crossfire for attempts to defend Canada’s “promise utility doctrine.” This rule, which constitutes a “revolution” in Canadian patent law, was invented by their courts and rests on the concept that patents that do not fulfill their “promise”as arbitrarily construed by the courts often years after the patent was filedcan be ruled invalid, even if they meet all of the internationally accepted criteria for patentability. Canadian courts began freely applying the rule in 2005 and have since revoked 25 patents that were invented to help millions of people suffering from cancer, osteoporosis, diabetic nerve pain and other serious conditions. Read More

U.S. Trade Deficit Widened in June to a Four-Month High

By | Economy, Shopfloor Economics, Trade | No Comments

The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit rose from $40.96 billion in May to $44.51 billion in June, its highest level since February. The data have been quite volatile through the first half of 2016, averaging $40.79 billion. That was somewhat lower than the $41.70 billion average for 2015 as a whole. The higher figure in June’s report stemmed from an increase in goods imports (up from $182.05 billion to $186.41 billion) which was enough to offset a slight increase in goods exports (up from $119.83 billion to $120.37 billion).

A fair share of the jump in the trade deficit came from petroleum, with the petroleum trade deficit up from $2.89 billion in May – its lowest level since February 1999 – to $5.32 billion in June. Petroleum imports accelerated from $11.12 billion to $13.28 billion, but exports of petroleum edged down from $8.23 billion to $7.95 billion. Higher crude oil prices likely played a role in the increase in imports. Read More

Cheering Fair Play and Neutral Referees at the Olympics and in the TPP

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

More than 200 countries are sending their teams to Rio de Janeiro this week to compete in the Olympics, with hundreds of separate competitions, from cycling and swimming to archery and gymnastics.  We all want and expect a level playing field where no athlete or nation has an unfair advantage and where neutral referees, not national biases, determine who wins the gold.

To achieve fair play in the Olympics, there is a substantial rules-based structure at the international, individual sport and national level. The Olympic Charter is more than 100 pages, and there are thousands more pages of rules and requirements set forth by international sports federations and national teams.

Like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), most Americans have not read these thousands of pages, but understand that the basic rules reflect our common values and sense of fair play. So too does the TPP that sets for a detailed rules-based system that seeks to give industries in the United States a fair shot to win in foreign markets without discrimination or unfair advantages to our foreign competitors. Consider the basic principles that the TPP would implement: Read More

DNC Platform Ignores How Much TPP Meets the Objectives Laid Out

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Reading the Democratic National Committee (DNC) platform paragraphs on trade, one might believe that trade and trade agreements have been an overall negative for the United States, its entrepreneurs and its workers. Indeed, that is the apparent belief of many in labor and other organizations that are opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In reality, the massive growth of trade and U.S. participation in helping create the World Trade Organization (WTO) and leading the conclusion of 14 free trade agreements (FTAs) with 20 countries over the past half century have spurred a quadrupling of U.S. exports of made-in-the-USA manufactured goods. Those exports and other rules have helped advance a quadrupling of U.S. manufacturing output. Hundreds of millions of people around the world have moved out of abject poverty into a growing middle class, which is vital in its own right but also provides new and needed growth opportunities for the most-productive manufacturing sector in the worldour own.

exports quadruple

The platform describes many things that trade agreements should and shouldn’t do. A quick review shows that the TPP meets every single one of the DNC platform’s objectives; yet, unfortunately, the platform fails to endorse the TPP.


DNC Platform TPP Provisions
“Any future trade agreements must make sure our trading partners cannot undercut American workers by taking shortcuts on labor policy or the environment.”

“We believe any new trade agreements must include strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards in their core text with streamlined and effective enforcement mechanisms.”

The TPP includes the most extensive labor and environment provisions of any U.S. trade agreement, requiring countries to adopt and enforce domestically the types of International Labour Organization, international environmental agreement and other standards that U.S. labor and environment groups have long cheered.

The TPP provides new levers to address with labor and environmental violations that otherwise would not exist:  if countries fail to meet their extensive obligations, they will face dispute settlement proceedings and potentially trade sanctions.

“They must not undermine democratic decision-making through special privileges and private courts for corporations.”

“We should never enter into a trade agreement that prevents our government, or other governments, from putting in place rules that protect the environment, food safety or the health of American citizens or others around the world.”

The TPP promotes U.S. democratic values in many ways, including by:

·         Explicitly affirming the rights of governments to regulate in the public interest;

·         Providing any individual, organization or business the ability to protect their property located abroad through a neutral forum, but that forum cannot overturn any law or regulation; and

·         Ensuring food safety and other regulatory and standards provisions are developed in a science-based manner as we do in the United States.

“Trade negotiations must be transparent and inclusive.” The TPP was negotiated with strong public consultations with stakeholders of all types, with public hearings, public comments and more than 1,800 congressional briefings.

The full text of the TPP has been available since November 2015 for all members of Congress and the public to read.

“We will oppose trade agreements that do not support good American jobs, raise wages and improve our national security.” The TPP eliminates all foreign tariffs on U.S.-manufactured exports in the 11 TPP countries and eliminates other discriminatory and unfair barriers. The TPP also sets high standards based on the U.S. Constitution, laws and regulations to promote a more level playing field and help manufacturers and other businesses and their workers compete more successfully.
“Trade agreements should crack down on the unfair and illegal subsidies other countries grant their businesses at the expense of ours.” Combatting unfair subsidies is dealt with explicitly as part of the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, which currently applies to all TPP countries and 161 other countries around the world, and the TPP in no way undermines countries’ WTO obligations. Furthermore, the TPP adds new anti-subsidy disciplines by prohibiting subsidies to foreign state-owned enterprises, as well as other disciplines to ensure such enterprises do not receive or give unfair advantages to our competitors.
“It should promote innovation of and access to lifesaving medicines.” The TPP advances innovation by ensuring that innovation is protected, including with new provisions that criminalize the growing theft of trade secrets, as well as strong provisions on the protection of U.S. patents, trademarks and copyrights.

The TPP could have and should go further in protecting the innovation climate that will spur development and dissemination of lifesaving medicines. Strong intellectual property protections have, indeed, fostered the creation of 91 percent of all available medicines.

“And it should protect a free and open internet.” The TPP makes major advances in promoting a free and open internet not seen in any other trade agreement, including through:

·         Preserving the right of individuals and businesses and organizations of all sizes to access and move data and be forced to store data locally; and

·         Promoting public participation and transparency in the development of laws and regulations affecting the internet.

For manufacturers in the United States to continue to grow and to sustain and add new high-skilled and good-paying American jobs, we need new demand for our products. It’s that simple. Manufacturers need access to new markets without discriminatory and unfair barriers. That is what trade agreements like the TPP will do.

TPP Will Make Manufacturers Stronger—in Texas and Across the Nation

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

To grow and thrive in today’s economy, manufacturers in Texas are increasingly looking overseas to boost sales opportunities to sustain and grow their U.S. activities. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is important to that growth strategy because it will strengthen manufacturers in the United States and level the playing field with 11 Asia-Pacific countries that boast more than 490 million consumers. Read More

Time for Chinese Leadership to Advance Global Environmental Goods Pact

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

On the eve of this weekend’s G20 trade ministers meeting in Shanghai, China, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) joined more than 40 global associations in a letter urging China to demonstrate leadership that results in the conclusion of a commercially meaningful international agreement that would eliminate tariffs on a wide range of environmental goods and technologies. As this year’s host of the G20, China has a golden opportunity to lead the successful conclusion this year of the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), an agreement being negotiated under the umbrella of the World Trade Organization and a high priority for the global business community.

An ambitious EGA would eliminate tariffs on a wide range of environmental goods and technologies, an industry that accounts for nearly $1 trillion in annual global trade. Such an agreement would promote economic growth, improve environmental outcomes and advance innovation not only in China, but also in the United States.

The EGA would boost manufacturing and support our broad environmental goals as a country, supporting jobs and growth throughout the supply chain. It would also be an important catalyst to increased development of and trade and innovation in new environmental technologies around the world. It will improve the environment, from providing cleaner water to reducing pollution. At the same time, it will support the growth of the manufacturing industries that produce and utilize these technologies. In the United States, such technologies are manufactured throughout the country, providing good-paying jobs.

A rock-solid commitment this weekend by trade ministers from China, the United States and other G20 economies participating in the G20 discussions in ShanghaiAustralia, Canada, European Union countries (France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom), Japan, South Korea and Turkeywould provide key momentum as EGA talks intensify in the run-up to September’s G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China.

U.S. Trade Deficit Widened in May

By | Economy, Shopfloor Economics, Trade | No Comments

The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit rose from $37.39 billion in April to $41.14 billion in May, its highest level since February. The data have been quite volatile through the first five months of 2016, averaging $40.08 billion. That was lower than the $41.70 billion average for 2015 as a whole. The higher figure in May’s report stemmed from an increase in goods imports (up from $178.62 billion to $182.06 billion) which coincided with a slight decline in goods exports (down from $120.04 billion to $119.82 billion).

Even with the pickup, it is worth noting that goods exports and imports have each decreased over the course of the past year, down from $127.61 billion and $189.95 billion in May 2015, respectively. That suggests that trade volumes have fallen overall; although, part of that reduction could be lower petroleum prices. Indeed, the May petroleum deficit of $2.89 billion was the lowest since February 1999. Read More