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
On Feb. 2, the United States and European Union announced a political agreement on the new U.S.-EU Privacy Shield, a data transfer arrangement that would replace the longstanding U.S.-EU Safe Harbor framework. Once the new Privacy Shield text is released, companies will be in a position to review the new standards they would be required to follow to ensure they are protecting EU citizens’ personal data in the United States to a degree that is “essentially equivalent” to data protections provided to EU citizens in the European Union. Read More
As U.S. and EU negotiators meet this week for the 12th round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations in Brussels, manufacturers continue to press both sides to make substantial progress toward a comprehensive agreement that will eliminate barriers to trade and investment and set a high bar for the protection of innovation and property. Read More
Today, the NAM crossed the ocean to represent U.S. manufacturers before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and fight against the public disclosure of confidential business information. In 2015, the ECJ granted the NAM intervener status in European Commission v. Stitching Greenpeace. This is significant because intervener status is more difficult to obtain in the European system since it grants the intervener the ability to argue before the court and have its issues addressed on the merits. Furthermore, by allowing our intervention, the court recognized the interest of U.S. industry in this case. It is very unusual that U.S. trade associations appear before the EU courts, and it was far from certain that we would succeed in being admitted.
As way of background, the plaintiffs requested the public disclosure of a massive amount of confidential business information relating to certain pesticides used both in the United States and Europe, including how products were manufactured and their final composition, in order to assess potential environmental impacts. This case has broad implications, not only for the crop protection industry, but also for many, if not all, U.S. chemical manufacturers operating both in the United States and in Europe. The lower court’s ruling leaves two options for companies selling goods in the European Union. Either they accept that their trade secrets will be made public, meaning that their data can be used and abused anywhere in the world by competitors, or they decide not to market their products in the European Union altogether, with obvious adverse consequences for the company and the European Union as a whole. 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
Here is the summary from this month’s Global Manufacturing Economic Update:
The global economy has seen some progress since last fall, but growth remains modest at best. There is also a “two steps forward, one step back” feel to some of the latest data. Six of the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods expanded in March, according to Markit. This is down from seven last month, but up from four last October. Canada, our largest trading partner, saw its manufacturing activity decline, with weaknesses in new orders, exports and hiring. Softness in the United States and Europe were cited as factors.
The other three markets with contracting sales, output and employment levels were in Europe, with its economic downturn widening. The Markit Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell from 47.9 in February to 46.8 in March. This index has now contracted for 20 straight months, with little hope of improving anytime soon. While many of the recent headlines have surrounded the failure of the banks in Cyprus or the inconclusive Italian elections, the challenges are ones that confront the entire continent. The unemployment rate has risen to 12 percent, with more than one-quarter of the working population in Greece and Spain out of work, and real GDP is expected to contract throughout the year. This morning, we should learn even more about the manufacturing sector in Europe when new data on industrial production will be released. The data are expected to show a slight decline. Read More
Below is the summary from this week’s Monday Economic Report:
Before we could fully process the outcome of last week’s election, policymakers and financial markets began to focus immediately on the looming fiscal cliff. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over three percent between its closes on Tuesday and Friday, and the Congressional Budget Office reiterated its forecast that the United States would fall back into a recession if lawmakers fail to avert the fiscal cliff. For their part, both President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) spoke of a possible compromise post-election, with Speaker Boehner open to “new revenues” stemming from tax reform and the President eager to work with Congress while also restating his desire for a “balanced approach” to reducing the deficit. Manufacturers will be watching these developments closely, as the uncertain business and political environment has dampened economic growth of late. For example, the number of manufacturing job postings in September fell for the fourth straight month.
Economic challenges are not limited to the United States, with European woes once again coming into focus. September’s industrial production figures released last week were lower in Spain (down 7.0 percent), France (down 2.7 percent), Germany (down 1.8 percent), the United Kingdom (down 1.8 percent) and Italy (down 1.5 percent). Other data also indicate that economic activity in the Eurozone deteriorated, with higher unemployment, a contracting Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) and lower retail sales. Eurozone GDP figures will be released on Thursday and are expected to be down roughly 0.3 percent.
Despite significant headwinds in the United States and Europe, manufacturers increased exports in September. Goods exports rose to $134.0 billion—an all-time high—and the overall trade deficit narrowed to $41.5 billion. The gain stemmed from both petroleum and nonpetroleum exports, with many regions around the world increasing trade. (Exports to Europe were flat for the month.) Manufactured goods exports rose 6.1 percent year-over-year. Recent progress on the trade front can be attributed to some improvements (even among definite weaknesses) globally. For instance, industrial production in China edged higher (up 9.6 percent year-over-year), its highest level since May. This follows better (but still contracting) PMI data out earlier in the month.
New U.S. industrial production data on Friday should show modest growth for the second month in a row. In addition, regional manufacturing surveys from the New York and Philadelphia Federal Reserve Banks will be released on Thursday. Both improved in October, although the Empire State survey still contracted. It will be interesting to see if the data reflect continued gains. Other highlights for this week include consumer and producer prices, retail sales and small business optimism.
Chad Moutray is the chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers.
Today’s international trade numbers released by the U.S. Department of Commerce (here) show our U.S. manufactured goods trade deficit continues to grow, but that manufactured goods still retain their dominant position, accounting for 80 percent of U.S. goods exports.
April exports of manufactured goods were up 24 percent over April 2009, while April imports of manufactured goods were up 22 percent. Because imports are considerably larger than exports, the import growth rate boosted the dollar value of imports more than the dollar value of exports. As a result, the April manufactured goods trade deficit grew to $29 billion, up $4 billion from the previous year.
The National Association of Manufacturers had been expecting the trade deficit to increase over the 2009 levels, as the U.S. economic recovery is outpacing that of major markets such as the European Union and Japan — but we did not forecast a return to the $40-50 billion dollar levels of 2005-2006. The rate of import growth should slow later in the year, and an added export push can stabilize and begin to reduce the trade deficit further.
The April manufactured goods export rate of 24 percent remains significantly above the 15 percent annual rate of growth that will be needed for the next five years in order to reach the President’s goal of doubling exports by 2014. The rapid rate of growth so far, however, reflects a continuing recovery from the collapse of U.S. exports in 2009 – and achieving the export goal will require additional policy and program changes in order to keep the growth rate at or above 15 percent annually.
One of the policy changes needed is to open up more foreign markets by having more bilateral trade agreements. Year-to-date data shows the United States continues to run a manufactured goods trade surplus with its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners — $8 billion so far.
The manufactured goods deficit is with countries that have not entered into such agreements with the United States. Only about 40 percent of U.S. exports go to the FTA partners that have eliminated barriers to U.S. products. American manufactured goods still face significant trade barriers in the remaining 60 percent of our markets.
Misplaced Congressional fears about trade agreements are delaying implementation and further negotiation of trade agreements, hurting U.S. manufacturing jobs. Of serious concern is the fact that the United States sits dead in the water, while the European Union is negotiating with key markets, such as Canada, Brazil, and India. This is no way to ensure that U.S. exports will continue to drive the manufacturing and economic recovery.
See also Secretary Locke’s statement.
A selection of recent news releases from U.S. competitors:
- BILATERAL RELATIONS, May 4, 2010: “European Commission proposes relaunch of trade negotiations with Mercosur countries“
- “Commissioner De Gucht meets Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Trade Ministers”
- ASEAN, March 4, 2010, “Key progress in free trade negotiations mark Commissioner’s first visit to Asia“
- SINGAPORE, March 3, 2010, “EU to start bilateral trade negotiations with Singapore“
- “EU and Vietnam To Launch Free Trade Negotiations”
- May 7, 2010, “Minister Van Loan Wraps up Free Trade Promotion Visit to Europe”
- May 3, 2010, “Minister Van Loan Deepens Canada-Sweden Ties Through Science and Technology Partnerships”
- April 30, 2010, “Minister Van Loan Updates Business Community on Progress Toward Canada-EU Economic and Trade Agreement and Its Potential to Grow the Economy”
- April 28, 2010, “Canada and Russia Seek to Strengthen Trade Ties”
- April 20, 2010, “Canada Begins Third Round of Economic and Trade Negotiations with European Union“
- March 10, 2010, “Canada Tables Free Trade Agreement with Colombia”