Current U.S. economic and trade policies undercut American manufacturing says a coalition of manufacturing and trade policy experts. The Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws, together with the Economic Strategy Institute, the New America Foundation's U.S. Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative and other groups, is calling on Washington to step up its support of manufacturing in America by making fundamental policy, structural, trade and political changes.
The groups issued the call to action at a summit of more than 200 manufacturing executives, legislators, union leaders, trade policy experts, and state and Federal officials, held in Washington D.C. on Septl. 28. Speakers at the Conference for the Renaissance of American Manufacturing at the National Press Club included Senator Sherrod Brown, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and former Intel CEO Andy Grove.
"We do not want to see the last factory in America close down within our lifetimes," said Gilbert B. Kaplan, president of the Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws.
"The decline of American manufacturing happened not because of some inevitable shift to a post-manufacturing economy as some argue, but because the United States has picked the wrong policies and not paid attention to preserving and growing manufacturing," Kaplan said. "America urgently needs unequivocal and bi-partisan policies in support of reviving manufacturing, with clear performance goals and timelines for action."
The groups released a Statement of Principles outlining the structural, economic and legislative changes also required to bring factories back from the brink and restore jobs, including:
- Changing tax policies so that manufacturing in the United States is encouraged, not discouraged, and making sure that imports pay their fair share of taxes
- Creating tax policies that foster manufacturing investment by strengthening R&D and capital investment, and allowing for accelerated depreciation
- Providing grants and low-interest loans to companies that manufacture in the U.S. (as long as other countries' governments are providing assistance to their industries)
- Encouraging a change in corporate culture so that manufacturing in the U.S. becomes a primary objective, and moving plants off-shore is discouraged
- Changing the governmental policy apparatus so that there is a strong spokesman for manufacturing at a senior governmental level
- Maximizing the use of domestically produced goods on all taxpayer-funded projects, consistent with our international obligations
- Enacting a comprehensive energy plan that encourages conservation and innovation, improves infrastructure, expands domestic production, and creates 'green-jobs"
The groups also call for major reforms to the U.S. trade system. Among the groups' recommendations are:
- A "plus jobs and plus factories" requirement for all existing trade agreements and future agreements, in which it can be shown that the agreement on a net basis has created or will create jobs and factory builds in the U.S.
- A commitment to balance trade in the U.S. by a date certain in the future
- In the short term, passage of legislation to require strict adherence to trade agreements and compliance with trade orders, and the countervailing of currency undervaluations
- In the longer term, a comprehensive review and rewrite by the Congress of our trade laws, which have not been changed significantly since the Uruguay Round Act in 1994
- Stronger, sustained trade action against foreign subsidization of manufacturing
- Creation of an unfair trade strike force within the U.S. government
- A commitment by the U.S. government to self-initiate actions to strike at unfair trade
- Simplification of the trade case process to make it cheaper, faster and more effective
- Addressing the fact that many imported products are not bearing environmental and health care costs
- Starting a Manufacturing Round of trade talks, the main goal of which is to negotiate changes in the rules of the trading system so we can reclaim some of our basic manufacturing capacity
The groups call on Congress to undertake five specific legislative initiatives in the near term to revive manufacturing, including:
- Legislation to countervail currency undervaluations and enhance enforcement of trade case orders
- Rewriting U.S. trade laws in the next session to bring them up to date, deal with the realities of the 21st century, and make sure they are effective in preserving and reviving U.S. manufacturing
- Rewriting tax laws to encourage manufacturing in the U.S., to ensure that imports pay their fair share of taxes, and encourage R&D and capital formation for manufacturing
- Altering the governmental policy apparatus to provide a voice for manufacturing at senior levels
- Passage of a Manufacturing Education Act that will develop targeted vocational and technical training programs at both the secondary and post-secondary level in order to strengthen manufacturing education, and funding programs and institutions to improve the skills of career-changing adults interested in manufacturing jobs
The full text of the Statement is available at www.supportustradelaws.com