Department of Commerce Archives - Shopfloor

Vermeer Hosts Commerce Secretary for Business Roundtable

By | General | No Comments

This year marks a big anniversary for Vermeer – 65 years in operation and counting! Family owned and operated since the beginning, Vermeer is a model of manufacturing in the U.S. Today, Vermeer’s CEO and former Board Chair of the NAM Mary Andringa, hosted a roundtable discussion with 15 business leaders to talk over challenges and policy priorities.  So it was perfect timing to have the new Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzer and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) drop by for a tour and listening session.

Ms. Andringa blogged earlier today that, “When you look back at the origins of the Department of Commerce, you’ll see that the National Association of Manufacturers was at the center of support for its development. It’s fitting that the relationship between Commerce and the manufacturing community dates back before the Department’s official conception. The two share similar visions of progress – both strive to create jobs, promote economic growth and encourage sustainable development in communities big and small.”

While the conversation touched on a number of topics, Ms. Andringa, zeroed in on the importance of growing exports and the jobs and economic growth that follow. Vermeer, and in particular Ms. Andringa, has been an invaluable manufacturing advocate and today was no different. Vermeer clearly sees the big picture and Secretary Pritzker couldn’t have picked a better stop to make as she spends time with business across the country.

Department of Commerce Report Finds a Welcome Return in Manufacturing Growth

By | Economy | One Comment

The Economic and Statistics Administration released a report today on the “Benefits of Manufacturing Jobs,” looking at the current state of the manufacturing sector and job trends. Its good to see that since January 2010 (lowest period) to April 2012, manufacturing employment expanded by nearly 500,000 jobs. This is the strongest cyclical rebound since the recessions in the 1980s.

The authors, David Langdon and Rebecca Lehrman, point to the essential role manufacturing continues to play in innovation, as manufacturing firms fund most domestic corporate R&D, and in driving export growth. The report demonstrates signs of renewed strength in the sector and its importance for providing “good jobs” to workers and to the greater economy via innovation that improves our nation’s standard of living.

Some of the highlights of the report include:

On average, hourly wages and salaries for manufacturing jobs are $29.75 an hour compared to $27.47 an hour for non-manufacturing jobs. Total hourly compensation, which includes employer-provided benefits, is $38.27 for workers in manufacturing jobs and $32.84 for workers in non-manufacturing jobs, a 17 percent premium.

The educational attainment of the manufacturing workforce is rising steadily.  In 2011, 53 percent of all manufacturing workers had at least some college education, up from 43 percent in 1994.

• The innovative manufacturing sector relies more heavily on STEM education than non-manufacturing.  For instance, nearly 1 out of 3 (32 percent) college-educated manufacturing workers has a STEM job, compared to 10 percent in non-manufacturing. 

•Higher educational attainment for manufacturing workers carries higher premiums and the size of the premium, including or excluding benefits, increases consistently with educational attainment.

•The compensation premium has risen over the past decade across all levels of educational attainment.

Advanced education and training is becoming increasingly more important to manufactures. The NAM continues to push policymakers to address the issue of better training for our workforce to meet the needs of modern manufacturing, both today and in the future.

Emily Sternfeld is a policy associate, National Association of Manufacturers.

Under Secretary Sanchez Talks Manufacturing, Exports at CMA Meeting

By | General | No Comments

Yesterday, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Francisco Sanchez spoke at the NAM’s Council of Manufacturing Associations (CMA) winter meeting.

Under Secretary Sanchez reiterated calls that we are at the beginning of a “manufacturing renaissance” and talked about the number of quality jobs created in the industry over the course of the last two years. He highlighted a Department of Commerce report which said that in 2009 alone, manufacturing made up more than 11 percent of GDP.

In order to build off the successes of manufacturing, and to really enter into a manufacturing renaissance, we have released our own four-point plan to guide the process. A Manufacturing Renaissance: Four Goals for Economic Growth addresses both the areas where we are thriving and the areas that need more attention.

Among those issues are exports. The NAM has been a strong supporter of the president’s goal to double exports by 2015. Manufacturers play an imperative role in that effort and Under Secretary Sanchez says “the correlation between jobs, exports and manufacturing is clear.” We agree.

Under Secretary Sanchez also spoke about the New Market Exporter Initiative. This initiative helps U.S. businesses find new markets, opportunities for export training and new contacts with distributors and representatives to expand their business.

The topic of manufacturing has been at the forefront of the Republican presidential debates and recent remarks by President Obama. It is encouraging to see so much attention on the industry that has led our economic recovery and continues to do so.

“U.S. manufacturers are vital to our economy and future growth.  It’s work that I’ve always valued.  My father ran a candy factory.  He had to make payroll.  He had to monitor inventory.  He had to sell and market products.  From his experience, I know how a strong manufacturing sector benefits workers, communities and our nation.” – Under Secretary Sanchez

Use the New Market Export Initiative to Grow Your Exports

By | Trade | No Comments

Today on the The Commerce Blog NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons posted a guest entry about our partnership with the Department of Commerce on the New Market Export Initiative (NMEI).

From Jay’s guest blog post:

“The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Department of Commerce are working together to achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2014. The New Market Export Initiative (NMEI) will make it easier for manufacturers to identify new markets, find new customers for their products and grow their business.

Exports are a key part of any competitiveness agenda. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. With the right tools and resources, manufacturers can increase their exports and find new customers.”

The NMEI is just one more step in our goal of trying to reach the President’s goal of doubling exports by 2014. If you are interested in the NMEI please contact Janice Corbett at Janice.Corbett@trade.gov.

Poster: Proud to Manufacture in Michigan

By | General | No Comments

Roger Kilmer, director of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), writing at the Manufacturing Innovation blog notes our post about Congress increasing funding for MEP, a program of the Department of Commerce’s National Institute for Standards and Technology.

He continues:

[In] the spirit of recognition, take a look at the recent ‘Proud to Manufacture in Michigan’ poster produced by our Michigan affiliate, Michigan Manufacturing Technology center.  The poster, available for download, helps show the “pride” of the Motor City’s manufacturing community.

Thanks to Jacklyn Gardner at MEP for bringing this to our attention via Twitter.

Circumnetting Goings On at the Department of Commerce

By | Economy, Innovation, Trade | No Comments

Many things worth noting at the Department of Commerce last week, including Secretary Gary Locke’s travels to Brazil with President Obama:

Commerce.gov, March 20, news release,
“Secretary Locke Tours Embrear, Encourages Increasing the Commercial Relationship Between U.S and Brazil”:

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today encouraged stronger U.S.-Brazil commercial relations during a visit to Embraer manufacturing facility outside Sao Paulo. Embraer is a Brazilian manufacturer of commercial, general aviation, and defense aircraft. Locke toured the facility and saw firsthand how the company incorporates significant U.S. aviation content into its supply chain. He also applauded the company for it integrated supply chain and encouraged further integration with American small-medium-sized enterprises.

“Embreaer is a shining example of partnership between U.S. and Brazilian manufacturing that is a “win-win” and creates jobs in both countries,” Locke said.

According to Embraer, the company has imported over $6 billion in goods from U.S. companies over the last five years. Embraer recently opened an assembly facility in Melbourne, Fla. and currently employs 660 people in the United States at 5 facilities.

Commerce.gov, March 18, news release, “Secretary Locke Advances U.S.-Brazil Trade Relationship During Presidential Trip“:

Locke met with Fernando Pimentel, the Brazilian Minister of Development Industry and Foreign Trade to discuss ongoing cooperation on key commercial relationship issues and the short- and long-term priorities of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum.

Earlier in the day, Locke met with Antonio Palocci, President Dilma Rousseff’s Chief of Staff and co-chair of the U.S.-Brazil CEO forum, to discuss increased commercial engagement between the two countries. He discussed improving cooperation on Intellectual Property Rights issues with Brazilian Minister of Culture Ana de Hollanda.

Commerce.gov, March 17
, “U.S. Commerce Department Taps Chicago Business Leader to be its Liaison to the Private Sector“:

The U.S. Commerce Department today announced that Matthew T. McGuire will be joining the agency as Assistant to the Secretary and Director of the Office of Business Liaison. In this position, he will be leading the Department’s efforts to engage the business community on some of the Obama Administration’s top policy priorities, while continuing to strengthen partnerships between the public and private sectors.
Read More

A Boost for Exports from Smaller Manufacturing Companies

By | Trade | No Comments

The week got off to a good start this morning, exportwise, at the Department of Commerce.  Secretary Gary Locke joined John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, and Russ Fleming, FedEx’s vice president for international marketing, to announce the NAM’s participation in the New Market Exporter Initiative.

The New Market Exporter Initiative (NMEI) is one of Commerce’s many tools for helping small- and medium-sized enterprises take advantage of exporting opportunities these companies may not be aware of, providing the market research and technical advice necessary to expand their reach abroad. As Secretary Locke explained (news release):

From left: FedEx's Russell Fleming, Secretary Gary Locke, John Engler

We know that American businesses produce world-class goods and services. What we can improve is connecting those businesses to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside our borders. This partnership with the National Association of Manufacturers will do just that – helping to link manufacturers, especially small- and medium-sized firms, with new markets abroad.

Engler commented:

More than 90 percent of exporters are small and medium size manufacturers – and they account for about 30 percent of exports, roughly $300 billion.  Today, however, the overwhelming majority of these companies export to just one or two countries.  If we could just double the number of countries they ship to, we could make significant gains in U.S. exports.

Fleming spoke about FedEx’s ability to bring both logistical expertise and marketing strategies to bear for manufacturers.

The NAM has established a webpage with information about participating in the New Market Exporter Initiative. It’s www.nam.org/nmei.


Overcoming Obstacles that Hinder Exports for Smaller Companies

By | Trade | 2 Comments

The U.S. International Trade Commission recently issued a report that documented how critical it is to open markets to U.S. exporters, not just for the large multinational companies with an established global presence, but also to small- and medium-sized enterprises (which includes manufacturers and service-industry businesses). 

We highlighted some of the findings of “Small and Medium- Sized Enterprises: Characteristics and Performance” in this earlier post, emphasizing the substantial exports that small- and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) already make and the potential for even greater exports.

But there are obstacles to the SMMs, the ITC reports:

Trade Barriers That Disproportionately Affect SME Export Performance

  • Burdensome or discriminatory government regulations in many foreign markets disproportionately affect SMEs. U.S. SMEs may lack the staff, expertise, or financial resources to dedicate to foreign compliance.
  • SMEs are more likely than large firms to identify high tariffs as a substantial impediment to exporting. SMEs account for a high share of exports in apparel and certain processed food industries that face generally higher foreign applied tariffs.
  • Standards and certification are important non-tariff hurdles for SME manufactured goods exporters. In particular, licensing, residency requirements, and commercial presence requirements present challenges for SME services providers that export.
  • Manufacturing SMEs reported greater burdens relative to large firms in most areas, including “customs procedures,” “high tariffs,” and “preference for local goods in foreign market.”
  • For SME manufacturing exporters, the most frequently cited impediment to exporting was “obtaining financing,” “high tariffs,” or “transportation and shipping costs.” In contrast, large manufacturing firms identified either “foreign regulations,” or “preference for local goods or services in a foreign market” as their most frequently cited impediment.

The National Association of Manufacturers and Department of Commerce have long worked in a partnership to overcome those obstacles, with a Commerce commercial officer seconded to the NAM’s offices.

Next Monday, the NAM and Commerce will take that cooperation to higher level with an announcement about the NAM’s involvement with the New Market Exporter Initiative. Secretary Gary Locke and NAM President John Engler will speak, and FedEx will play a prominent role.

The goal? Realize the potential.  Export more U.S.-manufactured goods. And create jobs.

With Airliner and Tax Deals, U.S. Business with Panama Flies Higher

By | Taxation, Trade | One Comment

This morning, in a signing witnessed by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Panamanian Vice President Juan Carlos Varela, Copa, the Panamanian airline, signed a contract to purchase more than 20 Boeing 737-800 airliners equipped with General Electric engines. This deal, worth more than $2 billion, will support thousands of American jobs – not just Boeing and GE workers – but also jobs in their hundreds of Boeing’s and GE’s suppliers, many of whom are small or medium-size firms.

What this huge sale indicates is that the Panamanian market is important to U.S. manufacturing, and we want to see trade with Panama expand.  Among other things, Panama is planning upwards of $20 billion of infrastructure projects, including the world’s largest construction project – expanding the Panama Canal.  We certainly want to see American manufactured goods and American-supplied services employed in those projects.

But there’s a problem.  Our competitors, including Canada and the European Union, have signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Panama that will soon go into effect.  Those will allow their manufactured goods duty-free access to Panama, while American manufacturers will have to face import duties that can be as high as 15 percent.

The United States concluded a trade agreement with Panama three years ago, an agreement that would eliminate import duties on U.S.-made goods.  Most unfortunately, that agreement has languished, as opponents have said they are concerned about money-laundering and won’t agree to a Congressional vote until Panama signs a tax-exchange agreement with the United States.

Well, today’s second piece of goods news is that this afternoon, Treasury Secretary Geithner and Vice President Varela signed the Tax Information Exchange Information agreement. That agreement now removes the hurdle to sending the U.S.-Panama Trade Agreement to Congress for a vote that is unambiguously in the interest of manufacturing in America.

Let’s get on with it and beat the competition for a change!  We want more deals like today’s Boeing-GE deal with Panama.  And we want them with Colombia and Korea too.  Congress must get out of the business of blocking U.S. jobs and should get into the business of supporting U.S. manufacturers’ efforts to create jobs.

Frank Vargo is the National Association of Manufacturers’ vice president for international economic affairs.

Exporting More from Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

By | General, Small Business, Trade | No Comments

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has been making the rounds from Asia to Atlanta lately, with global trade’s importance economic growth his recurring emphasis. We’ve appreciated his consistent reminders that small- and medium-sized enterprises are powerful contributors to innovation and exports, not just for the United States but other nations, as well.

Locke spoke at the opening ceremony of the Americas Competitiveness Forum, a meeting of Western Hemispheric government and business leaders held earlier this week in Atlanta. (The International Trade Administration blogged the event at its Tradeology blog.) From his remarks:

What do we see as essential elements of competitiveness?

Small and medium sized businesses development is certainly one.

SMEs are frequently the driving force behind innovation — and the commercialization of new products and services that are the lifeblood of our global economy.

Consider the fact that firms less than 5 years old – many of which are considered small businesses – have accounted for nearly ALL increased employment in America’s private sector over the last three decades.

But small businesses development must also mean inclusive development.  

That is why since Day One, the Obama administration has put the empowerment of all SME’s and entrepreneurs at the top of our agenda – and worked so hard to knock down barriers entrepreneurship, especially among underserved communities.

This is a strategy the entire Hemisphere should make a priority to pursue.

Secretary Locke was reaffirming the points he made the previous week in Yokohama in remarks at the Asia-Pacific Cooperation (APEC) Small- and Medium Enterprises (SME) Summit.

During his stop in Mumbia on Nov. 6, Secretary Locke also announced plans for a February business mission to India: “I’ll be bringing with me U.S. companies – large and small – in search of mutually beneficial opportunities in this vibrant, promising market.”

For more info, “U.S. Companies Invited to Apply to Join Secretary Locke on Upcoming High-Tech Trade Mission to India