China Agrees to End Export Subsidies in Win for U.S. Manufacturers and Global Trading Rules

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

In a win for U.S. manufacturers, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced today a new bilateral agreement with China to dismantle a major government-funded export subsidy program that had boosted Chinese manufacturers at the expense of foreign companies. The new agreement eliminates more than 175 measures challenged by the United States in a February 2015 World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge and mandates follow-up consultation between the United States and China to ensure robust implementation of the agreement. Read More

U.S. Trade Deficit Widened in February, with Manufactured Goods Exports Down Sharply Year-to-Date

By | Economy, Shopfloor Economics, Trade | No Comments

The Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis said that the U.S. trade deficit widened to its highest level in six months. The trade deficit rose from $45.88 billion in January to $47.06 billion in February. The increase stemmed primarily from an increase in goods imports (up from $180.64 billion to $183.33 billion) that was enough to offset the gain in goods exports (up from $116.77 billion to $118.59 billion). In addition, the service sector trade surplus narrowed from $17.98 billion to $17.68 billion. Meanwhile, the petroleum trade deficit declined from $4.62 billion in January to $3.55 billion in February. Indeed, imports of crude oil fell to their lowest level in 14 years. Read More

Senate Passes Critical Intellectual Property Legislation

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

Tonight the U.S. Senate took a huge step toward protecting manufacturing products and processes from the current onslaught of intellectual property (IP) theft by passing the Defend Trade Secrets Act. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the bill’s passage, citing the important role IP has for manufacturers of all sizes:

“Manufacturers in America are the world leaders in innovation. The know-how to perfect their products can take years, even decades. These days, a competitor can steal that knowledge with the click of a mouse, costing a company good-paying jobs or even its entire business. This is a critical issue facing manufacturers, one that will define competition and success in the 21st century. That’s why we need all the tools possible to protect the superior knowledge and products that set our industry apart.

“IP can comprise up to 80 percent of the value of a company’s knowledge portfolio, and theft of these resources costs U.S. businesses roughly $250 billion a year. Manufacturers need a strong, unified federal policy that will enforce strict laws to protect what many businesses consider their most valued corporate assets. Today’s vote is a step toward updating our laws and helping manufacturers prevent IP theft aggressively and efficiently.

“We support Senate passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act and urge the House to take swift action to get this legislation to the president’s desk for his signature.”

Read More

U.S. and Canadian Businesses Speak Out: Removing Wood Pallet Exemption Would Undermine Trade and Commercial Opportunities

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

President Barack Obama’s meetings last month with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasized the value of open trade and investment between the two countriessome $2 billion per day between the two countriesas a linchpin of the relationship. Possible regulatory changes related to wood packaging, however, would impede that commercial relationship, adding unnecessary costs that would harm business and consumers in both the United States and Canada.

The NAM on Friday joined 37 other organizations on both sides of the U.S.Canada border in a letter urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to halt efforts to impose these new rules. Our collective organizations represent companies that are supporting millions of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, working for industries in nearly every area of bilateral trade, from aerospace to retail, from autos to food and beverages and from heavy equipment to cosmetics. Read More

Manufacturers Urge Passage of a New MTB Process

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Manufacturers welcome this week’s statements by House Republicans in support of legislation that would, at long last, establish a new process for the enactment of Miscellaneous Tariff Bills (MTBs), and we look forward to reviewing closely the details. New MTB legislation would eliminate longstanding distortions in the U.S. tariff code through the elimination of taxes on imported products not available in the United States.

The NAM has long supported bipartisan and bicameral efforts to pass MTBs, which correct on a temporary basis distortions in the U.S. tariff code by eliminating duties on imported products for which there is no or insufficient domestic production and availability. Read More

Critics Use Same Flawed Scare Tactics to Bash Trade Deals

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

Trade critics continue to roll out the same tired arguments lashing out against trade deals that create critical opportunities for American businesses, workers and consumers, even though these arguments have been proven wrong time and time again.

The Sierra Club issued the latest salvo recently, with a new paper that repeats its typical criticisms of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The paper seeks to present a stark picture of the future, warning of a pending “swell” of ISDS challenges to scare governments from moving forward on public interest regulations.

Sound familiar?  It should. Anti-trade environmental groups have used these far-fetched arguments before, even though none of what they have predicted has ever come to pass. The Sierra Club’s claims about the United States’ free trade deal with South Korea is a good example where they warned that the deal would “significantly raise the likelihood of more costly investor-state cases targeting U.S. laws and regulations.”

These arguments are scare tactics, not grounded in facts. After four years, not a single ISDS case has been filed under the Korea-U.S. (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In fact, the United States has free trade agreements in force with 20 countries and bilateral investment treaties in place with approximately 40 countries, and yet has faced only a small number of ISDS cases: 18 cases over the past 25 years. The United States has a strong track record here, having won every single case that has been concluded.

The truth is that ISDS is all about fair play, making sure that governments keep their international commitments, respect private property and treat all companies fairly and without discrimination. Here are some of the key facts about ISDS: Read More

Trade Beyond the Sound Bites

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

The presidential campaigns have brought trade front and center in their debates and on social and traditional media. Lots of statements are made and repeated that bear no relation to the reality that manufacturers in the United States face every day in the global economy. Perhaps sound bites don’t make for an easy way to talk about the opportunities and challenges that trade creates for manufacturers big and small.

The NAM, which was founded in 1895 in substantial part to open foreign markets for the U.S. manufacturing industry, is committed to informing and educating both policymakers and the broader public about the impact of trade on manufacturing and the agenda that we believe will help us grow manufacturing in a highly competitive global economy. To that end, the NAM hosted yesterday a digital event featuring a panel of trade experts: Ambassador Carla Hills, former U.S. trade representative; Tony Fratto, former White House communications expert and founding partner at Hamilton Place Strategies; and Chuck Wetherington, president at BTE Technologies.

Watch the event by clicking here.

From left: Wetherington, Fratto, Hills, Dempsey gather for Periscope panel on trade. Photo by: D. Thoennessen/NAM

From left: Wetherington, Fratto, Hills and Dempsey gather for a Periscope panel on trade. Photo by: D. Thoennessen/NAM

The panelists provided decades of experience at the forefront of U.S. policy and the business reality that manufacturers face in selling domestically and overseas in competition from businesses in Europe, Asia and the rest of the world. I set the table for the conversation with a point oftentimes missed in the broad public discussion on trade: manufacturing is growing in the United States. Manufacturing output is currently at its highest level ever, quadrupling since 1980 to reach a record high of $2.17 trillion in 2015. As the most productive manufacturing sector in the world, our manufacturers need to expand their customer base, including to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers that live outside our borders. Read More

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Examines Trade with Cuba

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade held a hearing Tuesday on “Trade with Cuba: Growth and Opportunities.” The hearing comes ahead of President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba next week. The visit, a first for a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years, is a clear indication of the progress made since the administration announced in December 2014 its goal of normal trade relations with Cuba. Read More

India’s New Budget, Reports Show Gap Between Rhetoric and Reality on Problems Facing Manufacturers

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

India just entered its “budget season” with a flurry of reports on its economy and fiscal priorities for the coming year. While these rosy reports contain positive rhetoric about India’s economic and commercial environment, global manufacturers are looking for action: concrete steps, not just rhetoric, to address challenges that limit their access in India. Read More

NAM Highlights Key Trade Priorities Ahead of Prime Minister Trudeau’s Visit

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

This week, newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will arrive in Washington for a state visit—a demonstration of the deep ties that connect the United States and Canada—and the first state dinner for a Canadian leader in nearly two decades.

The United States and Canada share a vibrant trade and investment relationship. Canada had long been the largest U.S. trading partner and ranked second last year behind only China. Canada remains the largest U.S. export market for manufactured goods (totalling $246 billion), and Canada is the United States’ third-largest supplier of manufactured goods imports (totalling $208 billion). Cross-border U.S.-Canadian investment remains high, with Canada the largest destination for U.S. foreign direct investment in manufacturing at $107 billion, and Canadian investment in manufacturing in the United States the eighth largest source at $57 billion.

Despite our vast network of commercial ties with Canada, the two countries are facing several priority trade policy and investment issues. As Prime Minister Trudeau and his delegation meet with President Obama and other key U.S. government officials, manufacturers urge them to address these topics as they consider how to further enhance our economic relationship. Read More