NAFTA: A Win for Manufacturing Workers

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Negotiations for revising and modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) begin today, and American manufacturing workers whose jobs are dependent on exports are watching closely.

NAFTA went into effect in 1994, and since then, the United States has sold three times as much to Canada and Mexico. In 2016, the two countries alone purchased one-fifth of all manufactured goods made in the United States. This is a big deal for manufacturing workers and their families because those sales support jobs here at home—a lot of well-paying jobs. Sales of manufactured goods to Canada and Mexico, made possible through NAFTA, support the jobs of more than 2 million manufacturing workers.

When someone says that we need to abandon NAFTA to support manufacturing workers, they have the facts backward. It’s certainly true that NAFTA could use some improvements. After all, it’s more than 20 years old. A tune-up, if done right, could help, especially if it’s focused on eliminating remaining barriers to selling U.S. goods, raising standards to U.S. levels, cutting red tape and improving existing enforcement tools.

Those would be steps in the right direction. However, we should not blame manufacturing’s challenges over the past few decades on NAFTA. NAFTA has been a powerful tool to strengthen our industry and help manufacturers in the United States nearly double our production. It’s other policies that have held us back and discouraged investment in the United States—policies like our outdated tax code and our overreaching, complicated regulatory system. Our declining, deteriorating infrastructure has also hurt the industry and our workers.

So as negotiators sit down this week and again in the coming weeks to determine what NAFTA will look like in the future, I urge them to stick to the facts and help manufacturers build on the agreement’s accomplishments to improve, not weaken, America’s global competitiveness. Manufacturers will continue advocating a stronger, modernized NAFTA so that we can keep growing and thriving here in America.

Why Manufacturers Are Cheering Energy Week

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Later today, I’ll join President Donald Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt for an “Energy Week” event at the Department of Energy headquarters here in Washington, D.C.

President Trump is expected to give a speech on American energy independence and “dominance.” This is the kind of leadership manufacturers want to see.

Access to affordable, reliable and diverse energy sources is essential to growing manufacturing in the United States. It’s about more than keeping the lights on; it’s about powering the heart of the American economy.

Manufacturing accounts for roughly one-third of all the energy consumed in the United States. If you make energy more abundant, you make it easier for companies of all sizes to expand their operations in the United States—and to hire more workers. There is a direct line between American energy access—or “dominance,” as the president puts it—and creating new jobs for Americans.

Over the years, manufacturers have produced the innovative new technologies that have allowed us to harness new sources of energy—and to improve our sustainability and make our energy use more efficient. Today’s access to affordable and diverse energy was unthinkable 20 or even 10 years ago. Now it’s time to build on that success.

Across this country, voters and elected leaders want to see the growth of manufacturing in the United States. If you support manufacturing, then you should support the continued development of American energy. Manufacturers use all forms of energy—oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewables. America should lead the world in the development and deployment of all these energy forms.

Learn more about manufacturers’ energy agenda here.

Manufacturers on the President’s Cuba Announcement

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Manufacturers support efforts to achieve normal trade relations with Cuba and to share with the Cuban people the values that make, and keep, America exceptional: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity. While today’s announcement will add some hurdles for Americans interested in trade and travel to Cuba, manufacturers appreciate the president’s acknowledgment that our commercial and diplomatic engagement can support the ambitions of the Cuban people. We look forward to expanding investment and opportunity in Cuba.

Isolating the Cuban people has not yielded a new day for freedom and democracy in the island nation just miles from our shores. But eased restrictions on travel to Cuba and U.S. manufacturing exports to the Cuban private sector has made it simpler for Americans to engage with Cuban citizens, as it did when a group of National Association of Manufacturers leaders traveled to Cuba recently, and to support the growth of private enterprise in Cuba. We saw, in even a short time, the potential for normalized diplomatic relations not only to create economic benefits in both nations but also to bring freedom and democracy to Cuba and its people.

Most important in the near term is the strategic value of rapprochement with Cuba, to counter the growing influence of China and Russia in the region. During our visit, for example, a Russian oil tanker with 249,000 barrels of refined product arrived in Cuba for the first time this century. It brought back memories of when the Soviet Union supplied all of the communist country’s needs. Instead of allowing the hand of friendship to come from communist governments and those with a different set of values, we can demonstrate the strength of democratic values and the free market system through a robust trading partnership.

We look forward to the day, as much as anyone, when the Castro regime ends. But ultimately real change will only happen when the Cuban people can take charge of their own destinies and entrepreneurs can create their own opportunities.

Faces of Cuba

Manufacturers on Infrastructure: Get It Done

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If you are going to get cut off during an interview, it might as well be for the president of the United States.

Just before President Donald Trump discussed his vision to modernize America’s infrastructure and continue to support manufacturers in the United States, I joined Stuart Varney on “Fox Business” to offer the perspective of our nation’s 12 million manufacturers on the urgent need to advance infrastructure investment and remove job-crushing regulations.

As I told Stu, the bottom line is that the American people want to get things done. Manufacturers are encouraged that the president is getting things done, incorporating elements of the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) “Building to Win” strategy, and we hope Washington comes together to get a big, jobs-first, trillion-dollar infrastructure plan done.

There’s a reason 93 percent of the NAM’s members recently surveyed are optimistic about their outlook on their economy—a 20-year record high. It’s because President Trump is not just delivering speeches like he did today. He’s listening to manufacturers and putting actions behind his words—to create jobs and lift standards of living for everyone.

Timmons: President’s Tax Plan Will Create Opportunity, Improve Lives

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Washington, D.C., April 26, 2017 – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons issued the following statement on President Donald Trump’s proposed tax reform plan:

“President Trump has listened to those who feel they work harder today for less or are out of a job. The president delivered on his commitment to put the force of the White House behind policies that will grow the manufacturing economy in the United States and raise standards of living for everyone in our country.

“By modernizing our tax code and making it more competitive, manufacturers—and all businesses—will find it easier to invest their next dollar and create their next job here in the United States. It can mean more jobs, better jobs and more money in their paychecks. It means lifting more people up and empowering more Americans to improve their lives.

“This is yet another item on President Trump’s list of accomplishments in his first 100 days. Of course, the work doesn’t end today. Manufacturers are committed to working with the administration and Congress to ensure the best possible pro-growth tax reform plan reaches President Trump’s desk. The NAM has waited decades for tax reform, and the need is more urgent than ever.”

Manufacturing Jobs Increase for Fourth Straight Month

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Timmons: March Jobs Numbers Continue Encouraging Trend

Washington, D.C., April 7, 2017 – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons issued the following statement on the release of the March jobs numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today:

“As manufacturing leaders discussed with President Donald Trump at the White House last week, manufacturers’ economic optimism is at a record 20-year high. Today’s numbers continue the four-month trend of increasing job growth, which manufacturers have not seen in some time.

“President Trump’s actions have certainly boosted manufacturers’ confidence in the future, and that positive change is coming. The president is rethinking red tape and addressing our regulatory burden, helping us to create American jobs and grow our economy. But we are still far from reaching our full potential. An outdated tax code, crumbling infrastructure and excessive regulations make it unnecessarily difficult to compete and win against overseas competitors.

“Manufacturers expect to see action on bold solutions for regulatory reform, infrastructure investment and tax reform, among other issues. We have shared our proposed path forward with the president and Congress and look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure manufacturing’s best days are still ahead.”

Read more about the NAM’s visit with President Trump last week here.

Media Contact: Jennifer Drogus, (202) 637-3090

Jay Timmons Issues Remarks at Annual Ex-Im Conference

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Remarks as prepared for delivery. 

Well, good afternoon. Thank you, Scott [Schloegel] for the introduction.

And most importantly, thank you to everyone who’s here today. Your support for the Export-Import Bank is support for American workers and manufacturers in the United States.

U.S. manufacturers are strong advocates for the Ex-Im Bank because we see firsthand the difference it makes in people’s lives and livelihoods.

I’m proud to be here today not only to say “thank you,” but also to urge the administration and Congress to come together and move forward soon. Manufacturers want to see the agency fully operational again. There are jobs to create and business to win—and we don’t want to wait any longer.

So, let’s get to work.

Now, I’m honored to be joined today by a great manufacturing leader, Chuck Wetherington, president of BTE Technologies. He’s also the vice chair of our Small and Medium Manufacturers Group at the NAM.

We’re going to have a conversation, and Chuck, you’ll see, is a great champion of the Ex-Im Bank.

Let me just set the stage a little for that conversation.

As manufacturers, our message is straightforward: we need a fully operational export credit agency to level the playing field. We’re in a global economy, and 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders. Our competitor nations have robust export credit agencies, and they’re beating us as a result.

If you want to make manufacturing in the United States even greater, we can’t start from a competitive disadvantage.

And we must keep in mind that it’s small businesses that are losing while we’re in a holding pattern. Some small businesses, in fact, have big deals on hold right now because the Ex-Im Bank can’t process them. And small businesses stand to lose much more the longer we wait to act. Year after year, 90 percent of Ex-Im transactions directly support small businesses.

Moreover, the deals with larger companies that the agency can’t make right now…they would also support small companies that are the suppliers for those bigger brands. And I don’t want anyone to lose sight of that as well.

The Ex-Im Bank is a great success story. And at a time when manufacturing has captured the imagination of our leaders and the American people, I know our policymakers are eager to implement a strategy that will make our companies as competitive as possible in every market. I see the Ex-Im Bank as a vital component of that strategy.

Now, even with the Ex-Im Bank in the situation that it is, we have reason to be optimistic. In fact, our recent Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey revealed that manufacturers are feeling more positive about the future of their companies than at any time in the survey’s 20-year history.

So the state of manufacturing is strong. Our industry is diversifying, increasing output and bringing us transformative technologies.

We are charting new frontiers and supporting new jobs. But we could be doing so much more.

And for the first time in a long time, that’s achievable. In addition to making progress on the Ex-Im Bank, we could see bold action on tax reform, infrastructure investment and regulatory reform.

The landscape is tough. But I believe it can be done—and it must be done.

The last major overhaul of the U.S. tax code was in 1986. Think about it: in 1986, there wasn’t internet in every home, never mind in every pocket. Fax machines were the hot technology at six minutes per page to transmit. Forget 3-D printing; we barely had color printing. And there were 86 million fewer people in the country.

Manufacturers have innovated over the past 30 years, the country and economy have transformed, but the U.S. tax system, well, it hasn’t kept pace.

To spur job creation, business tax reform must have a few essential goals:

Reduce the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, which is what the president has proposed.

Small businesses and pass-throughs should see taxes reduced as well.

We want to shift to a modern territorial international tax system.

And we want to strengthen R&D incentives and see faster deductions for capital investments.

On the regulatory front, we’ve seen many positive developments in recent weeks. But we have a long way to go. A recent NAM study found that manufacturers are subject to 297,696 federal regulations. And the cost of regulatory compliance for small manufacturers is nearly $35,000 per employee per year.

Regulatory reform—making regulations smarter, simpler and streamlined—is one of the quickest ways to create jobs and give manufacturers the confidence to expand.

We know it’s possible to have safe workplaces and environmental stewardship at the same time our economy is experiencing robust growth. If we can work together, from the Department of Labor to the EPA, we can achieve those goals.

Now on the infrastructure front, I like to think the NAM got out ahead on this one. We saw over the summer that both candidates were hot on infrastructure investment. So we said we don’t want these good intentions to devolve into the disappointments of the 2009 stimulus bill.

We released an infrastructure plan of our own, called “Building to Win.” It certainly wasn’t exhaustive, but it did point out the big problems, the economic opportunities and even the price tag and pay-fors.

I’m proud to say that the Trump campaign cited our plan favorably when laying out their vision for infrastructure last fall. Administration officials have cited it publicly since taking office. And we hear public statements from leading Democrats—and Republicans—about the type of modernization we’re calling for. So I think we have a good foundation to build on.

You really can’t overstate the urgency of the need here. Our infrastructure is not what a 21st-century economic powerhouse needs. It’s crumbling, it’s outdated, and frankly, it’s dangerous.

Millions of jobs are at stake. Without immediate action on the infrastructure crisis, the United States will lose more than 2.5 million jobs by 2025 and more than 5.8 million by 2040.

If we invest now, we will put America on a stronger foothold, better able to compete in the global marketplace for at least the next generation.

***

Now, ultimately, this all comes back to the same theme: competitiveness. We must be competitive in the global economy.

Advances in technology and transportation over recent decades have created substantial new opportunities for manufacturers in the United States to reach millions of foreign consumers.

In fact, we have seen world trade in manufactured goods quadruple over the past quarter century. Trade has never been more important to manufacturers.

Manufacturers in the United States need robust trade policies and agreements that open markets, protect U.S. property and standards and ensure strong enforcement of core rules of fairness in the global economy. We’re working on NAFTA and other issues right now so that we can make sure that our trade agreements and trade rules work as effectively as possible to grow U.S. manufacturing and jobs.

I know in this room, I’m preaching to the choir. But for all of you who are working to make the case for the Ex-Im Bank or for any of these other policy priorities, know this: the NAM is on your side. We will not back down. We will continue to lead. And if you need resources, facts or real-world stories, we can work with you.

This is our time. Manufacturing animated the presidential race. Manufacturers propelled a change election. And the president of the United States has made manufacturing in the United States his signature issue. We intend to seize the moment.

So, thank you, and Chuck, let’s have a conversation.

###

Media Contact: Jennifer Drogus, (202) 637-3090

Energy Revolution Powers Exxon Job Announcement

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Great news out of Houston today. Exxon Mobil Corporation announced it will be investing in manufacturing jobs in Texas and Louisiana—to the tune of $20 billion over 10 years. This announcement is important because it demonstrates the connection between domestic energy production and manufacturing. These investments will lead to the creation of thousands of high-paying manufacturing jobs, and it’s all made possible thanks to the domestic energy revolution.

Manufacturers depend on affordable, accessible energy to power their operations and as a raw material. Without the expanded domestic energy production of recent years, an announcement like today’s wouldn’t be possible. Across the United States, manufacturers are being empowered to expand and grow because of access to affordable energy, and America’s energy industry is boosting manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Since 2011, the National Association of Manufacturers has released a series of economic reports all showing that if the United States develops its vast energy resources, manufacturing will grow. Today’s announcement is a sign of what’s possible and a reminder that the future is bright if we continue to invest in energy development and infrastructure in the United States.

Read more about Exxon’s exciting announcement here.

President Trump Listened to Manufacturers and Is Acting Decisively on Our Solutions; This Was a Speech Americans Expect of a President

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Madison, Wisconsin, February 28, 2017 – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons issued the below statement on tonight’s joint address to Congress by President Donald Trump. Timmons is in Madison, Wis., on the final leg of the NAM’s weeklong State of Manufacturing Tour, which has traveled the country to highlight real-world solutions to grow manufacturing:

          “Tonight, Donald Trump hit the reset button and offered a message of unity and economic opportunity. Manufacturers are grateful for his message to rekindle the American spirit. This is what the American people needed to hear. This was a speech Americans expect of a president.

          “The president demonstrated that he listened to the concerns and policy proposals from the National Association of Manufacturers. And he outlined a bold plan to act on our key priorities in order to ensure the government will be a partner in creating the economic environment we need to compete, succeed, invest and create jobs for Americans. 

          “Manufacturers are energized by the president’s proposals for competitive tax and smart regulatory reforms, as well as his call for significant investment in our nation’s infrastructure. Manufacturers are ready to stand with him as he pursues $1 trillion of long-overdue investment in infrastructure, or as he declared: a ‘new program of national rebuilding.’ Manufacturers are also ready to work with Congress and the administration on comprehensive tax reform, and we look forward to seeing the president’s plan to provide a transformational jolt for manufacturers and our economy.

          “President Trump is confidently and forcefully putting the weight of the White House behind manufacturers’ goals on our key priorities, including reducing health care costs to employers. These actions will encourage more investment and create more jobs in the United States to help lift all Americans up and leave no one behind.

         “Manufacturers will continue rolling up our sleeves and working to get deals done on our ‘Competing to Win’ agenda and help the Trump administration secure progress on our immediate priorities. The needs are urgent.

           “It is now time to put politics aside for our industry and our country, because the only red and blue in manufacturing is on the flag that hangs in every shop floor.

          “Well done, Mr. President.”

Learn more about the NAM’s Competing to Win priorities here.

-NAM-

President Trump Begins Work to Support Manufacturers on Day One

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Thank you, Mr. President. Manufacturers welcome the presidents swift move to provide no new burdens to the onslaught of regulations we have endured these past eight years. One after another, regulations—on everything from health care and energy to workplace conversations—have made keeping our doors open harder and harder.

Todays announcements are great first steps, and we hope this is a sign of more positive actions to come.