I had the chance this week to meet with executives from the PH Glatfelter Co. who were visiting Washington, D.C. For me, this was no ordinary meeting. PH Glatfelter runs the paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio, where I grew up, and it was in that mill (then known as Mead) that my grandfather, Harry Timmons, got his first manufacturing job, opening doors of opportunity for our family. Read More
Congress took a major step toward boosting manufacturers in the United States with yesterday’s introduction of the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016. This legislation would establish a transparent, objective, predictable and regularized process for Congress to consider and enact Miscellaneous Tariff Bills (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.
NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey issued a statement upon the bills’ introduction:
“Manufacturers are encouraged that, after three years of calling upon Congress to act, leaders in the House and Senate have introduced legislation to create a transparent and predictable MTB process that eliminates unnecessary border taxes. Amid rising costs and a tough global economy, manufacturers are paying and will continue to pay a heavy price if Congress does not move on this legislation. These distortions are particularly severe for those manufacturers that must pay tariffs on necessary inputs not produced domestically, while the competing foreign finished product comes in duty-free.”
“The NAM urges that MTB reform legislation advance as soon as possible, because the sooner we move forward with these needed reforms, the sooner relief will be available to manufacturers.”
This week, U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank users, stakeholders and government officials, including members of the administration, will convene in Washington, D.C., for the 2016 Annual Ex-Im Summit. There’s reason to celebrate at this year’s conference as the Ex-Im Bank, a critical tool for businesses of all sizes across the United States, was reauthorized last December by a supermajority in Congress after an extensive advocacy campaign. While the Ex-Im Bank’s doors are open, it can’t operate at full capacity because three of the five seats on its board of directors are empty. As a result, the Ex-Im Bank lacks the necessary quorum to review and approve certain transactions. If Congress fails to act on the pending nomination to the board, the agency will be handicapped in its mission to help U.S. exporters compete and succeed in the global consumer marketplace. With 95 percent of those consumers outside our borders, the Ex-Im Bank helps exporters take advantage of huge market opportunities overseas that will fuel job growth here at home. Read More
It is abundantly clear to manufacturers in the United States that our current tax code has to go—it’s complicated and arcane, holds back economic growth and makes us less competitive. While we’re working hard to get lawmakers to update and improve our nation’s tax system, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, with a stroke of a pen, managed to make a bad system significantly worse. Read More
The countdown is on for Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade show taking place April 25 to 29. The United States is the 2016 partner country, and President Barack Obama will join German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the opening ceremony of the show, which last year drew 220,000 visitors.
The National Association of Manufacturers took part in a key lead-up event this week. “On the Road to Hannover Messe,” sponsored by the German Embassy and Siemens AG, brought together manufacturers and policymakers to discuss the best ways to support the Internet of Things, also known as Industry 4.0. Read More
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.”
It is clear hiring remains weak for manufacturers as they grapple with global headwinds and lingering anxieties about the overall economic outlook. Employment in our sector declined by 29,000 in March. That said, we have begun to see some signs of stabilization for demand and production in other manufacturing data—but that has not translated into jobs just yet, according to today’s release. Meanwhile, nonfarm payrolls continued to make slow-but-steady gains, with growth near consensus estimates.
For the Federal Reserve, this report does not change much, as short-term rates were not likely to be increased at the upcoming meeting in April anyway. Instead, the Federal Open Market Committee will be looking for broader-based improvements in the U.S. economy as it prepares for its June meeting, and for manufacturers, we would hope that such data would include progress in the industrial sector. Manufacturers have been nervous about the Federal Open Market Committee raising rates too quickly, as they reported in the most recent NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey.
Sluggish hiring for manufacturers should also force our political leaders to consider pro-growth policies to improve overall economic conditions and to allow our businesses to better compete in the global marketplace. The NAM has outlined its pro-manufacturing policy agenda in its “Competing to Win” document, which was released earlier this year.
Manufacturers are encouraged by the statements made by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) regarding the need for relief from the Environmental Protection Agency’s October 2015 ozone standards. The governor made the following statement yesterday:
“So I think it would be a great idea if they suspended the standard. I mean, just with the background [ozone], if you’re not going to be able to conform to a standard like this, you are leaving the risk or the possibility that there will be penalties of one sort or another that come from your lack of compliance. Obviously, no different than any business, states want to have as much predictability as possible, and I think if they suspend the standards, it’s not going to slow us down from continuing to try and make our air cleaner…
You know, we’re a mile high. Air quality issues affect us more directly than they do at lower elevations. So we’re going to keep pushing it, we’re not going to back off, we’re going to continue to improve the air quality in the state every year if I have anything to say about it, but at the same time, those standards, you know, to be punitive when you’re working as hard as you can … to get cleaner air as rapidly as you can, it seems like it’s not the most constructive stance.”
Today, the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) announced its lawsuit on behalf of manufacturers challenging the newly released persuader rule. This regulation infringes on the rights of employers to communicate with and receive advice from expert advisors on labor relations issues.
Digital technology is changing the landscape of how the world makes things. More and more often, terms like “advanced manufacturing” and “smart” work are being used to describe the latest era in our sector. But what does “advanced manufacturing” mean? What affect is it having on the supply chain? On jobs? On our laws? Greg Scheu, executive committee member of ABB Group and president of ABB Americas Region, joined lawmakers, administration officials and technology experts in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss those questions.
The goal of advanced manufacturing, according to Scheu, is using technology to provide a competitive advantage—helping grow their business, service their customers and compete globally. Connected products and processes—or the Internet of Things—are helping manufacturers become more efficient in their processes and develop a broader, more customizable array of products to offer. Read More