Tag: Trade

NAM Partners with Global Business Dialogue to Promote Environmental Goods Agreement

This morning the NAM and the Global Business Dialogue hosted a discussion about the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) negotiations underway at the World Trade Organization (WTO). NAM’s Linda Dempsey, Vice President for International Economic Affairs, spoke about the benefits to manufacturing of a broad EGA, mentioning that, “increased trade and global engagement is vital for our manufacturers. With only a 9 percent share of the global $11 trillion market in manufactured goods trade outside our borders, manufacturers can and should be able to expand commercial opportunities.

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Protecting Innovation and Creativity in India; A First Step to Stronger Bilateral Trade and Investment Ties

This week, senior officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) are visiting India to continue discussions on various bilateral trade issues, including intellectual property (IP) rights. The talks are a precursor to a long-awaited India-US Trade Policy Forum scheduled to take place later in the year. They are a welcome opportunity to consider how both nations can benefit from stronger IP protection and enforcement.

India’s recent actions to block a WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement that could have added an estimated $1 trillion to the global economy raised serious concerns about Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to opening India’s market and incentivizing overseas investment. India’s actions dealt a particular blow to poor countries, which would have benefitted disproportionately from a trade facilitation deal. According to the OECD, full implementation would have reduced international transaction costs for low and lower middle income countries by up to 15 percent.

However, there’s still time for India’s new government to break from the protectionist policies of the past. The fact that dialogue between India and the United States is even taking place is a step in the right direction. And few steps would have a greater impact on promoting economic growth and jobs in India and repairing a damaged bilateral trade and investment relationship than reforming India’s patent regime and strengthening IP protection and enforcement.

India’s economic present and future depend on technology and creative industries. The Indian Software Product Industry Roundtable believes the country has the potential to build a US$ 100 billion software product industry by 2025. Bollywood is already the world’s largest film industry, and gross receipts have almost tripled since 2004. Yet by almost any measure, India’s climate for IP protection and enforcement consistently ranks among the very worst in the world.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, India’s IP environment ranks dead last among 25 industrialized and emerging economies measured against 30 factors that are indicative of IP regimes that foster growth and development. The country’s long track record of rampant copyright piracy and repeated steps to deny, revoke and compulsory license patents on innovative medicines have earned it a place on USTR’s Special 301 Priority Watch List for a record 26 straight years.

If Prime Minister Modi really wants India to be “open for business,” as he stated repeatedly on the campaign trail, then his government must put in place measures to protect new ideas and technologies – including bringing patent rules in line with global norms, reforming copyright laws to better protect creative industries and safeguarding confidential business information.

Implementing measures that strengthen IP protection and enforcement in India would be a welcome first step to improving trade relations with the US and would signal to the world that India is serious about becoming a global economic leader for years to come.

Manufacturers in the United States expect USTR to make a clear case for reform and real results leading to a more mutually beneficial trade and investment partnership this week. We hope India will listen.

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India’s Protectionism and Africa’s Economic Opportunities

Over 40 African heads of state and government are in Washington this week to discuss ways we can work together to promote economic growth and development in Africa.

But what if working together to open markets and reduce barriers in developing countries turns out to be the best way to promote growth in Africa? With industrialized countries in North America, Europe and elsewhere now largely open to African products, the continent’s greatest chance to drive future export growth may come from reducing high barriers in major developing country markets like India.

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit aims to promote economic growth and development by fostering stronger trade and investment ties. The United States has and can contribute much to that goal. Through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), it has eliminated tariffs on substantially all African exports. Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, and manufacturers in the United States are eager to invest and strengthen economic partnerships across the continent.

Yet overall, some 70 percent of tariffs developing country exporters face are applied by other developing countries, and the protectionist challenge is even greater in particular regions of the world. According to the World Bank, tariffs imposed by India and other South Asian countries on imports from developing countries are frequently five times as high as the rates imposed by industrial countries.

Reducing those tariffs is critical, the Bank says, because nearly 90 percent of the stimulus to developing country exports following past tariff cuts has come from liberalization by other developing countries.

Sadly for Africa, India and others in a position to lead in lowering barriers and contributing to growth and economic development are moving in the opposite direction. A Global Trade Alert study found G20 economies collectively imposed 692 protectionist measures between 2008 and 2010, and India and other emerging markets were among the biggest sinners. Many of those measures harmed the commercial interests of least developed countries – 70 percent of which are in Africa.

Just last week, India single-handedly thwarted a WTO deal that would have drastically cut the cost of moving goods across borders in Africa and around the world. According to the Peterson Institute of International Economics, a successful trade facilitation agreement would have added $1 trillion to the global economy.

Developing countries stood to gain the most. An OECD study found full implementation would have reduced international transaction costs for low and lower middle income countries in Africa and elsewhere by up to 15 percent.

Unfortunately, India seems bent on pursuing policies that are standing in the way of African exports and African development. This week, African countries and the United States have an opportunity to make common cause and to look at ways to work together to reduce trade barriers in India and other emerging markets.

With so much to gain from cooperation, we can’t afford to miss this chance.

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Manufacturers Welcome Renewed U.S.-India Dialogue, Urge Concrete Results

Regular engagement on both common priorities and bilateral disputes is essential to build and sustain trust and constructive ties between any two countries, and that’s certainly true for the sometimes troubled relationship between India and the United States.

As NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons remarked at a recent event co-hosted by the Weekly Standard, “India and the United States won’t see eye to eye on every issue. That’s not unusual. It must, however, become normal in the U.S.–India relationship to talk about those differences and work through them, not avoid or ignore them.”

That’s why NAM was so pleased to see trade representatives from the United States visiting India this week to prepare for a meeting of the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum, which has not met since 2010. These talks follow a high profile meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and precede an expected meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi in September.

There are reasons for optimism. Modi’s government is rightly focused on incentivizing foreign investment to drive growth, create jobs, cut government debt and improve the nation’s infrastructure. In his recent budget speech, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed raising foreign investment caps for defense and insurance to 49 percent and charted a better way forward on difficult tax matters.

Yet it remains to be seen how the Modi regime will deal with prohibitively high tariffs in the auto and textiles sectors and with forced localization policies imposed by the last government that are blocking trade in telecommunications solar power generation equipment. Recent decisions to deny patents and uphold compulsory licensing of cancer medications have the troubling look and feel of business as usual.

Resumption of long-dormant dialogues is an important and long-overdue step in the right direction. But for this partnership to succeed, both the United States and India must not only engage constructively, but also deliver concrete progress and real results toward a more open business climate that promotes competitiveness and values innovation.

With progress and results, manufacturers can contribute importantly to India’s policy goals and to a fresh start for the bilateral commercial partnership. We will be watching to see whether promising talk and early steps achieve outcomes that can grow businesses and jobs in both countries.

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Growing Manufacturers’ Opportunities in the Asia Pacific: U.S. Push for Ambition and Market Access in TPP Must Continue

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.

As recognized by each of the TPP countries then and as manufacturers have long advocated, such an agreement must:

  • 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.

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Ex-Im Critics Ignore Reality; Re-Authorization is Really about Jobs and Competitiveness

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.

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Growing Manufacturers’ Opportunities in the Asia Pacific: Seizing Huge Growth Potential

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.

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Manufacturers Testify Before House Ex-Im Panel

Yesterday, manufacturers like Boeing and FirmGreen participated in a panel hosted by House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) to highlight the critical importance of reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank. Ex-Im Bank faces a tough reauthorization fight in Congress this year.

Manufacturers, especially small and medium-sized manufacturers, cannot afford a lapse in the financing support that helps them stay competitive in the global marketplace. Most of the Bank’s financing deals help small businesses, Ex-Im Chairman and President Fred Hochberg told the panel. Hochberg spoke with the NAM’s Member Focus magazine last year about efforts to help businesses of all sizes.

Unfortunately, manufacturers are already facing the consequences of the uncertainty surrounding Ex-Im’s reauthorization. FirmGreen CEO Steve Wilburn told lawmakers that his company lost a $57 million contract to a South Korean competitor because reauthorization legislation faces an uncertain future in Congress. “I just want you to understand the impact on people in my company, me personally and the people in the Midwest that I can’t give those jobs to,” he said. “To me, it’s unconscionable that we allow this debate to rage on a partisan basis.”

Ted Austell, Boeing’s vice president of executive, legislative and regulatory affairs, said that Ex-Im supports the company’s 160,000 employees, 15,000 suppliers and vendors, and hundreds of thousands of workers connected to the aerospace sector. “In a word, it’s jobs,” he said.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) addressed the panel yesterday afternoon, and he indicated that he will make Ex-Im a legislative priority. The NAM appreciated Rep. Hoyer’s outstanding leadership during the last reauthorization of Ex-Im, and we are very pleased that he continues to make this issue a priority. It is a critical tool that allows our small, medium and larger manufacturers to compete globally. Rep. Hoyer announced at a press conference earlier today that he is including Ex-Im Bank reauthorization in his manufacturing initiative.

This evening, Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) and other members of the New Democrat Coalition will take to the House floor to discuss the Ex-Im Bank’s positive impact on American jobs during a “special order.” You can follow along with the New Dems on Twitter here.

The NAM will continue to advocate for Ex-Im Bank’s reauthorization on Capitol Hill and with the Administration. In March, we spearheaded a letter that was joined by more than a dozen other business leaders to urge the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and the House Financial Services Committee to take immediate action on legislation. We’re also engaging our members to add their voices and influence. Click here to learn more about what manufacturers can do today.

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NAM’s President and CEO Jay Timmons Voices Manufacturers’ Priorities in Europe

This week, the NAM’s President and CEO Jay Timmons and I are in Brussels, Belgium and Berlin, Germany to advance manufacturing priorities in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations and to strengthen U.S.-European trade and investment ties.

Our first meeting on April 2 was with Member of the European Parliament Robert Sturdy, vice chair of the European Union (EU) Parliament’s International Trade Committee. We discussed ways to strengthen our collaboration in advocating for an ambitious, high-standard, comprehensive T-TIP agreement. Jay and I also discussed critical trade issues with U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Anthony Gardner, and EU Trade Commissioner Karel DeGucht.  We also discussed manufacturers’ T-TIP priorities and opportunities to strengthen our partnership with Business Europe and other leading business organizations and manufacturers. In Berlin, we’ll be meeting with a range of government and business leaders as well as U.S. Ambassador to Germany John Emerson.

Throughout this trip we have been advocating for a T‑TIP agreement that will significantly expand trade and investment between the United States and the EU and address global issues of common concern.  A comprehensive T-TIP would strengthen both our economies, which account for nearly half of global output of goods and services and 30 percent of global trade.

Jay has been emphasizing the importance of an agreement that further opens the transatlantic market, protects innovation and eliminates unnecessary barriers. He has also been identifying key priorities for manufacturers from regulatory coherence and transparency, to tariff elimination, intellectual property and investment protections and data flows, as well as highlighting opportunities for the EU and United States to work together to address common trade and investment challenges in markets around the world.

Next week, we head to Hannover, Germany, where Jay will speak at Hannover Messe 2014, the world’s largest industrial trade fair. In Hannover we will also meet with key policymakers and industry leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic, including advanced manufacturing, export models and skills training.

Jay will continue strongly voicing the high priority that manufacturers place on expanding international trade and investment ties with the EU and U.S. government leaders, leading European business associations and NAM member companies that are key to shaping the T-TIP negotiations.

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A Better Way to Do Business in India: Scrap Discriminatory Policies and Engage on Constructive Solutions

How can India grow its emerging electronics equipment and ICT manufacturing sector? Not with a costly and discriminatory Preferential Market Access (PMA) policy. That’s what Stephen Ezell concludes in a paper released by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

India’s PMA policy mandates local content requirements for as much as much as 30 percent of India’s $20 billion ICT market. By the end of next year, a quarter of the value of mobile phones and computer tablets, desktops, printers, keyboards, servers, memory cards and network equipment must be added in India. That share will rise to 45 percent in 2015 and to 80 percent by 2020.

PMA would block U.S. exporters from a large segment of India’s fast growing ICT market. India boasts the world’s second largest telecommunications network, with a subscriber base that has ballooned from less than 40 million in 2001 to nearly 850 million in 2011. Even without trade distorting preferences, the value of India’s ICT equipment production more than doubled between 2004 and 2009.

But, as Ezell points out, PMA is just as bad for India. Beyond the damage to U.S. and other overseas suppliers, the policy would “impose costs on India’s economy and citizens” without delivering production growth, increased security or better products or services. Overseas investors are already fleeing the sector. FDI in India’s telecommunications sector fell from $2 billion in the period from April 2011-March 2012 to just $300 million from April 2012-March 2013.

Ezell calls on the Indian government to repeal PMA and replace it with measures that can truly drive manufacturing growth and competitiveness. Specifically, he urges India to invest in infrastructure, workforce training and scientific research. He recommends tax and investment incentives to lure overseas firms and an end to an inverted Indian tariff structure that makes it more costly to import component parts than finished equipment.

Manufacturers in the United States are eager to engage on these and other constructive solutions. We continue to seek meaningful dialogue. But to get there, India must end its destructive “talk to the hand” approach to bilateral trade and commercial concerns. The U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum has not met since 2010. No other relevant forum, such as the High Tech Cooperation Group, or the ICT working group has met since 2011.

Early next month, the Indian people will go to the polls to choose new leadership. Manufacturers look forward to working closely with India’s next government. Together, we can find a better way of doing business.

The National Association of Manufacturers is co-chair of the Alliance for Fair Trade with India (AFTI). Click here for more information.

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