U.S. Manufacturers Bring Higher Standards Overseas, Study Finds

Compiled By Dave Schafer U.S. manufacturers bring high ethical, labor, and environmental standards to their overseas operations, helping to improve conditions in developing countries and advancing American values and interests, a new report says. The report was issued by the National Assn. of Manufacturers (NAM), Washington, and the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, Arlington, Va. NAM President Jerry Jasinowski says the report belies claims that trade liberalization creates a race to the bottom. "Clearly America's manufacturers are exporting their high labor and environmental standards to their operations abroad," he says. "Beyond good corporate citizenship, there's an elementary logic at work here. Productivity is the key to global competitiveness, and the most productive manufacturers are those with the most seamless operations. It doesn't make business sense -- nor does it save money -- to use different standards between factories just because they are in different countries," Jasinowski says. The study, "U.S. Manufacturing Industry's Impact on Ethical, Labor, and Environmental Standards in Developing Countries: A Survey of Current Practices," examined 44 companies. Among its findings:

  • Of the respondent companies, 95% apply a general corporate code of conduct and/or ethical standards to their operations in developing countries. Over 60% offer skills training and ethics training.
  • Eighty-seven percent of respondents have detailed policies on health and safety standards for workers.
  • Seventy-eight percent have environmental management systems that contain measurable objectives and/or targets for improved environmental performance.
The report is available in PDF format at National Assn. of Manufacturers and Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI.
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