Free Trade

Passage of Customs Legislation Is a Promise Kept

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Today’s strong Senate vote to send the conference report to H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, to the president’s desk for his signature is an enormous victory for manufacturers.  Outdated customs and border policies are costing American manufacturers billions of dollars a year in increased operating costs and unfair trade; they are essentially requiring businesses across the country to compete with one hand tied behind their backs. It is long past time to bring these policies up to date by cutting red tape and implementing practices that will strengthen manufacturers’ ability to compete globally on a fair and level playing field.

In spite of widespread support among many industries, including ours, and across party lines, this legislation has endured a long road to final passage. When Trade Promotion Authority and trade preference and adjustment legislation were enacted more than seven months ago, lawmakers made promises to grow manufacturing in the United States by completing the work on trade facilitation and enforcement legislation. Today’s final passage of this critical trade legislation is an important promise kept to manufacturers big and small throughout the United States.

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America’s Manufacturers Will Be Stronger Tomorrow with Trade Promotion Authority

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Today, the Senate will take a final vote on the renewal and modernization of the long-standing congressional-executive framework known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Movement on this top trade priority for manufacturers across a wide variety of industries throughout the United States has been a long time coming, since the expiration of the last TPA in mid-2007. Manufacturers in the U.S. have been at the forefront in pushing this legislation forward, from setting forth TPA priorities in 2013,  issuing a unanimous Board resolution later that year, testifying, taking out advertisements, activating call-in campaigns, appearing on TV and radio and of course holding many hundreds of meetings with Members of Congress in Washington and around the country. Read More

Is India “Open For Business”?

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Timmons delivers opening remarks at U.S.-India Trade Policy Briefing

Timmons delivers opening remarks at U.S.-India Trade Policy Briefing

Members of Congress, policy experts, economists, and industry leaders gathered at the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C., yesterday morning for a policy breakfast briefing event to examine an important question: “Is India Open For Business?” after the first year of the Modi government. Read More

Manufacturers Need TPA to Continue Turbocharging U.S. Manufacturing Exports

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NAFTA and free trade agreements (FTAs), what do you think? Good or bad for manufacturers in United States? While a small group of anti-trade critics would have you believe lots of myths, in fact, NAFTA and past FTAs have been critical to the growth of U.S. manufacturing. Moreover, more market-opening trade agreements negotiated with Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) are even more critical to America’s manufacturing future. Read More

TPA is Key to Solve the Status Quo Disadvantage Faced by Manufacturers in the U.S.

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Trade critics like to decry unfairness in the global economy, trade deficits and more in their fight against Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).  But what solution do they provide? Not one.

Manufacturers are in Washington, DC, today as part of the NAM Manufacturing Summit to talk about solutions and ways to grow manufacturing. For those concerned about the lack of a level playing field, TPA is key to solve the status quo disadvantage faced by manufacturers in the U.S.

Consider the status quo for U.S. manufacturers:

  • The U.S. has the most open market of any major economy, with more than two-thirds of all manufactured imports entering the U.S. duty-free in 2014. Under our Constitution and laws, the U.S. already accords the basic non-discrimination, fair treatment and private property protections found in our trade agreements to foreign products and investments.
  • Except with our 20 free trade agreement partners, U.S. manufacturers face far greater barriers overseas for our exports, products and innovation. According to the well-respected World Economic Forum, U.S. exporters face steeper trade barriers abroad than virtually any other major country, including Mexico, China and European countries largely because those countries have entered into more market-access agreements than the United States.Rank of Tariffs Face by a Countrys Exporters 2014

In the markets where the U.S. is currently negotiating free trade agreements, U.S. manufacturers face substantial barriers. Manufacturers face tariffs as high as 83 percent on automotive products, 70 percent on machinery and capital equipment, and 30 percent or more on chemicals, health and medical equipment and infrastructure products with some of the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries. Manufacturers face tariffs as high as 20 percent on electrical equipment, 15 percent on consumer goods, 14 percent on information technology products and 10 percent on machinery, capital equipment and metal goods in the European Union. Beyond tariffs, manufacturers face a wide range of other discriminatory barriers around the world—from local production requirements and discriminatory regulations and standards to weak protection and enforcement of U.S. property, innovation and inventions.

How do we solve this status quo disadvantage? Certainly not by standing still as TPA critics seem to believe. In fact, TPA is critical to reverse this disadvantage so that the U.S. can negotiate and conclude new market opening trade agreements that will open markets and help make sure other countries treat our manufacturers and goods as we already treat them.

Manufacturers urge Congress to move quickly to pass TPA so that we can grow manufacturing in the United States, not fall farther behind.

Banning LNG Exports Will Hurt Jobs and Economy

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The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) supports open and expanded trade and opposes efforts to limit manufacturers’ ability to expand exports overseas. Exports have been and continue to be a critical source of growth and opportunity for manufacturers throughout the United States, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are no exception.  A series of recent studies by energy research firm IHS CERA show that natural gas development has already led to the creation of more than 1 million jobs, and continued development of unconventional energy resources could create millions more.

Proposals that seek to limit LNG or coal or any other product would have far-reaching negative effects on the United States and should be rejected. Such restrictions limit economic opportunities and stifle job growth rather than provide a source of increased economic growth.

Export growth has created and saved manufacturing jobs over the past few years, which were tough economically for the United States. Export growth is vital not just for businesses across-the-board that directly export, but also for the many manufacturers in the supply chain. 

From the President’s first State of the Union address, doubling U.S. exports has been a top goal, supported by both businesses and workers and both Republicans and Democrats. From its origins, the United States has been built on exports. In fact, Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution provides quite explicitly that “no Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State,” evincing a strong disinclination to limit exports of any product. Read More

Technology Working Group in Congress Provides Another Endorsement of the Manufacturing Agenda

By | Economy, Infrastructure, Regulations, Taxation, Technology, Trade | No Comments

Today, the House Republican Technology Working Group outlined its policy priorities for the 112th Congress. The announcement, initiated by the Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH) and Technology Working Group Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), was delivered to a packed room of high-tech company representatives, including many NAM member companies.

These proposed policies serve as a starting point for congressional debate, and echo the positions manufacturers have been advocating to help grow their businesses and create jobs.

Technology can be found in all aspects of manufacturing and it is vital that Congress stays abreast on the latest developments to ensure manufacturers have the ability to compete and win in today’s global economy. U.S. manufacturers have a long standing tradition of an entrepreneurial spirit and being at the forefront of innovation. Manufacturers will continue to work with Congress to continue this legacy that has proven to be a job-creating engine for our economy.

Manufacturers are pleased that Congress has acknowledged the vital role technology plays in manufacturing and our economic health. Congress must adopt a strategy that will reduce the aggressive regulatory burden of the federal government and reform our tax code, while providing the infrastructure and common-sense policies needed to allow our technological advances to flourish.

The NAM’s Director of Technology Policy Brian Raymond discussed some of the proposals this afternoon:


Indications of Signs of Moving on the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

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From the media briefing Friday, Jan. 28, after a meeting of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Angelino Garzon of Colombia:

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, two points. The first one is: (inaudible) Vice President Garzon asked two days ago the Obama Administration to send this year to Congress the Free Trade Agreement. With all due respect, is the – you – Obama Administration going to do that, yes or no?


QUESTION: This year?


The follow-up adds various qualifiers, but there’s no misconstruing the “yes.”

Brian Wingfield at Forbes this morning provides a good round-up of positive developments, “Colombia Trade Agreement Gaining Momentum In Washington,” pegged to the return to Washington of Colombia Ambassador Gabriel Silva, who represented Colombia in the early 1990s.

According to Silva, the U.S. is seeing what opportunity it has in Colombia slip away. Documents provided by the Colombian Embassy show that the U.S.’ share of agricultural imports to Colombia has dropped from 46% in 2008 to 22% today, due in part to the integration of Latin American markets. Last May Colombian officials concluded negotiations on a free trade agreement with the European Union, and in August they signed a trade deal with Canada that is expected to become effective later this year. By the end of the decade, China could replace the U.S. as Colombia’s largest trading partner.

“We are asking the U.S. to turn things around,” says Silva.

Among the evidence for momentum, Wingfield cites the comments by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) after President Obama’s State of the Union address, which were: “Our free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama were signed more than three and a half years ago, so it’s extremely disappointing the president did not lay out a timeline for submitting them to Congress.”

From Korea and on to Japan

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From the joint news conference held Thursday by President Obama and President Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea.

President Lee:

Now, with regards to the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, President Obama and I agreed that we will give my trade minister and the U.S. Trade Representative more time so that they can finalize the technical issues. And President Obama and I will continue to work together so that we can have a mutually acceptable agreement at the earliest possible date.

President Obama:

As President Lee just noted, we discussed the need to keep moving forward towards a U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, which would create jobs and prosperity in both our countries.  We believe that such an agreement, if done right, can be a win-win for our people.  It could be a win for the United States because it would increase the export of American goods by some $10 billion, and billions more in services, supporting more than 70,000 jobs back home.

It could be a win for South Korea, with more access to the American economy, which would support jobs, raise living standards, and offer more choices for Korean consumers.  And it could be a win for the overall economic partnership between our two countries by bringing us closer together, allowing us to benefit from each other’s innovations, and ensuring strong protections for workers’ rights and the environment.

So we have asked our teams to work tirelessly in the coming days and weeks to get this completed, and we are confident that we will do so.  And President Lee in fact asked his team to come to Washington in the near future to continue these discussions.  So I appreciate all the efforts that he’s making on this issue.

And here’s a selection of reading to catch up on the President’s trip to Asia and negotiations over the U.S.-Korea FTA: