Yesterday’s vote by 52 percent of the United Kingdom to exit from the European Union—the so-called British exit (Brexit)—has sent shockwaves across global financial markets and plunged manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic into a long period of uncertainty. While there are no direct immediate consequences for the day-to-day operations of businesses in the United Kingdom, European Union or the United States, all businesses engaged in the transatlantic market need to start preparing for the changes that will in fact come. Read More
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.
A State of Manufacturing Tour guest blog post by Jim Roche, president of the Business & Industry Association, New Hampshire’s statewide Chamber of Commerce
Today, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) kicked off its 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour in New Hampshire—and with good reason! New Hampshire is a hotbed of innovative manufacturing and home to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary less than two weeks from now.
Here at the Business & Industry Association (BIA) of New Hampshire, the NAM’s official affiliate in the Granite State, we fight every day for policies that support our manufacturers—our state’s most important job creators. We push state legislators, the governor, our congressional delegation and regulators for public policy and commonsense solutions that are friendly to job creators and promote prosperity for New Hampshire businesses.
At today’s stop, the NAM laid out several key public policies that will help put manufacturing in America on solid ground, including important ideas like fixing our outdated tax code and upgrading old infrastructure to take us toward a more modern economy.
Today’s tour also highlighted the many ways manufacturers are changing our lives for the better. Manufacturing has grown well beyond the outdated images of mill and textile work, particularly in New England. Today, manufacturing leads in electronics, fabricated metals, machinery and technology. And manufacturing is connecting people across continents. The sector offers outstanding jobs and careers for nearly 68,000 New Hampshire workers. New Hampshire’s manufacturers export almost $4 billion of goods around the world every year, bringing new wealth and economic activity into our state’s economy.
As we move deeper into this important election season, manufacturing voters are asking candidates hard questions about how they will help America compete to win in a global economy. No matter the outcome of the election, we need policies that support today’s diverse and dynamic manufacturers. When manufacturing succeeds, we’re all better off.
Manufacturing production fell 0.1 percent in December, ending the year on a soft note. Output grew just 0.8 percent in 2015, highlighting the challenges faced in the sector by the global slowdown and reduced commodity prices. Manufacturers anticipate a continuation of many of these headwinds in 2016 as global growth remains quite volatile.
As manufacturers continue to confront headwinds in the economy, there are policy measures Washington can take to help get the economy–and manufacturers–growing faster and producing more. Among those policy measures are comprehensive tax reform, robust regulatory reform and the ability to trade with new markets.
This month, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) , a member of the NAM’s Council on Manufacturing Associations, released the results of a new economic impact study at an industry and media briefing in Washington, DC. Joining NCA for the announcement were Members of Congress and leading confectionery manufacturers from across the country. Read More
With President Obama’s Asia visit kicking off in Japan today, manufacturers are hopeful that the President and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make meaningful progress towards achieving ambitious and market-opening outcomes in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and that work will continue during the President’s visit to Malaysia to meet Prime Minister Najib Razak later this week. Manufacturers have long supported the negotiation of the TPP that TPP Leaders described in November 2011 that “will be a model for ambition for other free trade agreements in the future, forging close linkages among our economies, enhancing our competitiveness, benefitting our consumers and supporting the creation and retention of jobs, higher living standards, and the reduction of poverty in our countries.” Already, comprehensive, high-standard U.S. free trade agreements help propel nearly 50 percent of manufacturing goods exports around the world. A TPP done right will boost the United States’ already record manufacturing exports, as well as other sales and other commercial opportunities, by linking America’s highly productive manufacturers to new consumers around the world.
- provide comprehensive market access that concretely levels the playing field;
- ensure high standards on issues such as intellectual property, transparency and investment;
- address new trade challenges such as cross-border data flows and longstanding issues such as competition from state-supported enterprises; and
- incorporate strong enforcement mechanisms so that the agreement is more than words on a piece of paper.
When Japan joined the TPP talks in 2013, it committed to negotiate on the same ambitious basis that the existing TPP negotiating countries had already agreed. U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Mike Froman said today in Japan, the talks are at a “crossroads” and now is the time for Japan “to choose a bold path.” Manufacturers agree. Similarly bold choices must also continue in the capitals of all TPP partners to achieve an ambitious and fully market-opening outcome. Manufacturers urge Japan, Malaysia and all other TPP countries to continue to focus on that ambition this week and in the weeks to come so that the momentum of the TPP talks can be regained and that the TPP countries’ commitment to an “ambitious, high standard and comprehensive” agreement that was renewed in December 2013 can be achieved.
A successful TPP agreement that truly opens markets and improves the competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States represents an unprecedented opportunity to boost commercial ties throughout the Pacific Rim and beyond. The NAM continues to urge the immediate and comprehensive elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, strong protections consistent with U.S. practice on intellectual property and investment for all products, new provisions to permit the movement of data cross border and new disciplines to ensure fair commercial competition with state-owned enterprises. These provisions all must be backed up by state-of-the-art enforcement provisions from state-to-state to investor-state mechanisms. Ultimately a successful, growth-producing TPP agreement will be one that ensure that manufacturers in the United States will be put on a fair and competitive footing in each of the TPP markets.
President Obama, Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Najib Razak have a critical opportunity this week to inject new vitality into the TPP talks. Manufacturers hope they will seize this occasion to move the negotiations closer to a pro-growth and pro-competitive conclusion.
Over the last days and weeks, critics of the Export Import Bank (Ex-Im) have talked about lots of issues and attempted to smear lots of mud. Yet, they continue to ignore the crux of the Ex-Im issue: American jobs and American manufacturing competitiveness.
While critics may enjoy debates inside isolated ivory towers, our nation’s manufacturers have no such luxury. Manufacturers big and small, in communities across the country, face a highly competitive global economy every single day. Every sale made can mean jobs that are saved or new jobs are created. When they lose out to foreign competitors for sales, our nation’s manufacturers are faced with tough choices as they struggle to make payroll and keep their business on track.
Critics of Ex-Im’s reauthorization seem to ignore a basic fact of the global economy when complaining about sales of airplanes to foreign airlines or sales of capital equipment to foreign mining projects. The fact is that other countries are building up their infrastructure and striving to meet growing domestic demand for energy, transportation, water, crops and telecommunications. These projects are moving forward regardless of what the U.S. Congress does or doesn’t do on Ex-Im Bank reauthorization. The issue that Ex-Im reauthorization presents is whether those foreign projects will use products made in the United States by American workers or whether those sales will go to our competitors in Asia, Europe or elsewhere.
Outside the United States, at least 59 foreign export credit agencies (ECA) are working intensively to give our foreign competitors a leg up in sales in fast-growing overseas markets. Those ECAs do not hesitate to support all types of projects, with far less rigor than Ex-Im already places on the sales for which it provides financing, insurance, loan guarantees and other services.
The United States has led efforts to impose important disciplines on ECAs, particularly those for member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In 2011, the United States negotiated a new Aircraft Sector Understanding to bring official ECA financing rates more in line with commercial rates, taking away incentives for credit-worthy airlines to use ECA financing. That new agreement went into effect in 2013, and we’ve seen the commercial markets respond by picking up more financing for aircraft. But U.S. leverage has waned as critics seek to have the United States unilaterally disarm its own Ex-Im activities.
While the critics focus on a few large companies that use Ex-Im services (which not only support jobs in their own companies but also in thousands of small and medium-sized companies throughout their supply chains), they ignore the nearly 90 percent of Ex-Im transactions in FY2013 – some 3,413 transactions – that directly supported small businesses. As the NAM’s new Exporters for Ex-Im blog post series will highlight in the days and weeks to come, small and medium-sized businesses make up the lion’s share of Ex-Im’s activities. Ex-Im’s support of dynamic small business exporters like Wallquest has helped small businesses enter and expand export sales – thereby growing not only their manufacturing production, but the number of their employees.
At a time when the global economy is starting to show some growth, and we know our global competitors are seeking to win every sale, the question for lawmakers voting on Ex-Im reauthorization this year is actually quite simple: Do you want foreign purchasers to buy products manufactured in the United States with U.S. workers? If so, support Ex-Im reauthorization. Manufacturers do.
The President’s visit to Asia this week should highlight the value of strengthening trade and investment ties and identifying areas for increased commerce and cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. We believe that increased American economic and commercial engagement in the Asia-Pacific is critical unlocking numerous growth opportunities for manufacturers in the United States. The Asia-Pacific represents a huge market with an even greater growth potential that we hope the President’s trip can help catalyze.
Already, the Asia-Pacific region is a strong and growing purchaser of U.S. manufactured goods. Three of the top ten export destinations for U.S. manufactured goods are in Asia (China, Japan and South Korea). Total U.S. manufactured goods exports to Asia grew from $213.25 billion in 2009 to more than $331.56 billion in 2013. More specifically, transportation equipment exports from the United States to Asia nearly doubled from $30.21 billion in 2009 to just over $60 billion last year. Computer and electronic product exports also grew from roughly $55.61 billion in 2009 to $67.08 billion in 2013. Chemical exports to Asia also increased by $13.4 billion over the last five years.
Yet the potential for greater growth for manufacturers in the United States is substantial The Asia-Pacific region boasts nearly 60 percent of global GDP and is the fastest growing region in the global economy. The Asia-Pacific also makes up roughly half of the world’s population, making it a market ripe for more U.S. export growth.
To boost manufacturers’ export and sales opportunities in the region, more work is needed to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers, expand commercial relationships and ensure our trading partners play by the rules of the international trading system. The United States is seeking to negotiate a comprehensive, high standard and market-opening Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that would include our Asia-Pacific partners (Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam) along with several Western Hemisphere partners (Canada, Chile, Mexico and Peru). The United States is also negotiating a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with China, and efforts are underway to expand relationships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). More broadly, the United States has cooperated with 20 of our Asia-Pacific trading partners through the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to expand economic ties and develop stronger frameworks in numerous areas, from trade in environmental goods and transparency to creating a stronger enabling environment for infrastructure investment. At the same time, though, there are over 130 other trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific that exclude the United States and put manufacturers at a substantial disadvantage in other Asian markets.
To move successful trade negotiations forward and eliminate the competitive disadvantage that manufacturers in the United States face in many Asian markets, enactment of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is critical. Both the President and Congress need to work closely together to move a strong TPA bill. In January, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act was introduced to facilitate the negotiation and implementation of comprehensive and ambitious trade agreements and require intensive consultations throughout the negotiating process. Despite repeated calls by manufacturers and the broader business community, no further action has been taken on this or any other TPA legislation. To grow substantial new commercial opportunities in the Asia-Pacific, action on TPA is critical.
As Commerce Secretary Pritzker so aptly stated in a speech last week at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies: “We can act now to advance American values and interests in setting the rules for trade in a region representing 40 percent of the world’s economy, or we can let others with different values and interests take the lead.” Manufacturers agree that the time is now for the United States to lead in this region, where significant growth opportunities are awaiting U.S. exporters.
A new report on the Obama Administration admits a stunning lack of oversight of our nation’s bedrock environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA is the law that requires all major projects — think highways, bridges, pipelines, transmission lines — to submit to a comprehensive review of their potential environmental impacts prior to construction. NEPA is often the largest, costliest, most time-consuming regulatory hurdle developers face before they can build. It also is a common target for abuse, as there are countless ways to throw a wrench in the process and make the review take even longer (see XL, Keystone). The longer the delay, the more likely the developer walks away. Project opponents don’t even need a “win” on NEPA to win; the delay is often enough.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) administers NEPA, and for the past few years has assured us that it is best suited to streamline the environmental review process. Today’s report shows CEQ hasn’t even been watching. Consider what the General Accountability Office (GAO) found:
- The Administration does not have accurate data on the number or type of environmental reviews conducted each year.
- The Administration does not know how much it spends on environmental reviews, or how much typical environmental reviews cost.
- The Administration has no idea how long a typical NEPA review takes. GAO instead cites to a nonprofit group, the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP). NAEP estimates that the average environmental impact statement (EIS) takes 4.6 years, the highest it’s ever been. NAEP also estimates that the time to complete an EIS increased by 34.2 days each year from 2000 through 2012.
- The Administration thinks the majority of NEPA reviews are the shorter Environmental Assessments (EA) or Categorical Exclusions (CE), but it really doesn’t have any data.
- No government-wide system exists to track NEPA litigation or its associated costs.
- Delays sometimes occur because agencies assume they will be sued and spend more time making the review “litigation-proof.” Yet there is no evidence that these efforts actually improve the review document.
The White House opposed efforts to streamline NEPA in a bill passed by the House last month. Yet the President promised again this year that he would cut the red tape plaguing these reviews. How in heavens name is the Administration properly able to cure what ails NEPA when they’ve made no attempt whatsoever to diagnose the problem?
It’s time for Congress to step in here. Please.