Last Friday, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) called for action on intellectual property rights (IPR) around the world in a submission to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in advance of the agency’s annual Special 301 report. Global infringement of IPR, including patents, trade secrets, trademarks and copyrights, undermines manufacturers’ innovation and competitiveness to the detriment of jobs and growth.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit widened slightly, up from $42.23 billion in November to $43.36 billion. The underlying data were little changed from the month before, with marginal shift in goods exports (down from $121.94 billion to $121.16 billion) and goods imports (up from $183.18 billion to $183.67 billion). The service sector trade surplus also inched up a touch, increasing from $19.02 billion to $19.16 billion. For 2015 as a whole, the trade deficit averaged $42.29 billion, which was not far from the $42.36 billion seen in 2014. Yet, the underlying data reflect some major changes behind the scenes. Goods exports were off sharply, down from an average of $136.05 billion in 2014 to $126.16 billion in 2015, and a similar trend was seen for goods imports, down from $197.84 billion to $183.48 billion.
A fair share of the reduction in goods trade over the past year can be explained by shifts in the petroleum market. Petroleum exports averaged $8.29 billion in 2015, down from $12.03 billion in 2014. Likewise, petroleum imports fell from an average of $27.83 billion in 2014 to $15.17 billion in 2015. In this latest report, the petroleum trade balance widened marginally, up from $5.46 billion to $5.93 billion. Much of the dynamics in these changes over the past year are attributable to sharply lower crude oil prices, and indeed, the average price per barrel in the December calculations ($36.60) was the lowest since January 2005. Read More
Earlier this week, the National Taxpayers Union released new poll results that show 83 percent of Americans support a permanent ban on taxing Internet access. As these strong results suggest, support is consistent throughout the country and across the aisle. All four regions of the United States registered an approval rating of 80 percent or above. In addition, 87 percent of participants age 55+ and 79 percent of the 18-to-34-year-old demographic supported a permanent ban on Internet taxation. Read More
Yesterday’s signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an important step toward improving export and sales opportunities for manufacturers in the United States in a growing part of the world.
The TPP would eliminate all tariffs in the five countries with which the United States doesn’t already have a free trade agreement (FTA): Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam. The agreement would also require our TPP partners to adopt stronger standards across a range of areas from transparency and electronic commerce to the protection of private property and innovation. Read More
U.S. and EU officials are meeting this week in Brussels in an effort to negotiate an updated agreement that would enable companies to seamlessly transfer data between subsidiaries. This ability to transfer data across the Atlantic was thrown into doubt on October 6 when the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled to effectively dismantle the U.S.–EU Safe Harbor Framework. The original framework, adopted in 2000, had enabled companies to self-certify that they were providing “adequate” protection of EU citizens’ personal data.
The nullification of Safe Harbor has caused considerable uncertainty for the more than 4,400 U.S. and European companies that had operated under the previous agreement. These companies had represented more than 100 industry sectors across a broad range of manufacturers, many of which were small- and medium-sized businesses. Read More
This week, the International Trade Commission (ITC) will begin a three-day-long hearing focusing on the economic impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is the most complex free trade agreement the United States has negotiated since the Uruguay Round Agreements establishing the World Trade Organization. Once implemented, the TPP will provide an enormous boost to manufacturers’ business opportunities in the Asia-Pacific. Read More
For many years, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has enjoyed a collaborative relationship with the U.S. Department of Commerce with the shared goal of boosting exports, improving the business climate for American businesses and creating and sustaining good-paying American jobs. The NAM is excited to expand its work with the Department of Commerce to further these goals as a result of the recent decision by the United States to advance its international position.
The acknowledgement by trade ministers at the 10th Ministerial Conference Dec. 19 in Nairobi that many WTO Members want to explore “new architectures” for trade negotiations is a catalyst for countries ready to pursue initiatives that open markets and raise standards to improve economic growth through trade. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is ready to advocate for such agreements under the aegis of the WTO.
The successful conclusion of an expanded Information Technology Agreement (ITA) in Nairobi, coupled with ongoing efforts to negotiate an ambitious Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), lend important credibility to the WTO as a negotiating forum and could spur action on other market-opening and high-standard agreements.
Congress is one step closer to staving off retaliation on U.S. manufactured exports to our two largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico. The Senate amendment to H.R. 2029, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016”, includes text which would repeal provisions of the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule for muscle cuts of meat that have been found by the World Trade Organization (WTO) four times to be noncompliant with our international trade obligations. Read More
Yesterday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) showed once again how working together Congress can produce strong and important legislation to move forward the American economy. In releasing the conference report to H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, key House and Senate Committee leadership produced long-awaited and much-needed tools to facilitate trade, which is a powerhouse for growing manufacturers’ opportunities globally, and to strengthen trade enforcement tools to promote a more level playing field. Read More