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Which Was AAM’s Favorite Super Bowl Ad?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Big news outta Atlanta: They had a Super Bowl and the New England Patriots won, again.

Maybe you tuned in for the defensive gamesmanship, but come on: I know you didn’t. You weren’t at that Super Bowl party to watch Bill Belichick raise another trophy. You were there for the food …

… and the commercials. That’s what I tuned in for, at least. But not one of those weird, creepy ones, like that ad from Turbo Tax. I really focused in on this one from Kia.

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Why Are U.S.-China Trade Talks a Big Deal? Consider The Case of Micron.

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Trump administration is hosting a high-level delegation from the Chinese government for trade negotiations this week. The administration, acting on the results of a U.S. Trade Representative report into widespread allegations of intellectual property theft, has leveled 10 percent tariffs on a broad list of imports from China, and 25 percent tariffs on imports of machinery, semiconductors, and other tech products. And if substantial progress isn’t made during these talks, more tariffs will go up on March 2. As Reuters describes it, those additional tariffs will essentially cover all of China’s exports to the United States.

That’s a big deal if they do – but so is IP theft, which American companies complain is a chronic problem when doing business with or in China. A lot of money gets sunk into R&D, and losing your proprietary information to a rival vying for dominance in your industry sticks in the craws of a lot of American business executives.

There was a big, public example of this that unspooled last year, just as the Trump administration was laying out its IP case against China: the case of Micron, an Idaho-based semiconductor manufacturer that in June sued a state-owned (SOE) Chinese competitor and a Taiwanese company. Micron claims the former hired the latter to poach Micron engineers working in Taiwan and encouraged them to take Micron’s IP with them on their way out the door. It would then be passed to the Chinese SOE.

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What’s Going On With GM?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

In 2017, Congressional Republicans passed and President Trump signed what the Washington Post described as “the most significant overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years.”

 
Paul Ryan@SpeakerRyan
 

When I was chair of @HouseBudgetGOP, we began to change the debate with the Roadmap for America’s Future. Now, all these years later, those early ideas of tax reform have become law and hundreds of millions of Americans are better for it.

Less than a year later, a flagship American corporation, General Motors -- proud recipent of approximately $50 billion in federal assistance after the Great Recession -- took its reduced corporate tax rate and announced plant closures in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Lots of layoffs. If only we had seen it coming! 

 
NowThis@nowthisnews
 

This tax expert warned Congress that the GOP tax bill could lead to outsourcing. GM just announced more than 14,000 U.S. layoffs

Oh man! Maybe the president should have read that tax bill he signed a little more closely.

Anyway: After GM caught a ton of heat for its downsizing plans it deigned to offer laid-off workers the opportunity to move into other positions at factories elsewhere.

Mary Barra@mtbarra
 

I understand how GM’s recent news is affecting our colleagues, families and communities. Our focus remains on helping employees…

But the United Autoworkers, which represents workers in GM factories, is claiming the company is instead filling those positions with temps. That's a savvy business move by GM; you don’t have to extend to temps benefits like health insurance.

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Will GM Weather This Bad Publicity Storm?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

GM has caught a lot of heat in the last few weeks after announcing its plans to shut down five facilities in North America (four in the United States and one in Canada) and shed approximately 14,800 workers. The company claims it’s a restructuring effort to preserve cash and accelerate investment in electric and autonomous vehicles.  

In Detroit, where the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant’s closure will leave the Motor City with only one auto factory left within its borders, the economic hit – especially to the enclave municipality of Hamtramck – will be severe. Some Michiganders don’t seem too sad to see them go ...

... while some residents are even openly wondering if the neighborhood that was razed in the early 80's to build GM’s facility can now be revived.

In Lordstown, Ohio, home to a facility that currently makes the Chevy Cruze, the community is laying out to keep auto manufacturing in town. Schoolkids are writing letters. Elon Musk (the guy in the middle) is musing about buying the plant. State lawmakers are bending GM CEO Mary Barra’s well-compensated ear (she says she’ll keep an “open mind”), and some federal representatives are at odds with President Trump about whether the company deserves to lose the benefits of tax credits pulled.

All in all, It’s not a good look for General Motors, which took $49.5 billion from the governmentjust a decade ago to avoid bankruptcy, and saved approximately $150 million through its third fiscal quarter off this year's Republican tax cut, to now lay off almost 15,000 American employees.

But, there’s a bit of good news for the company! The ongoing trade negotiations between the Trump administration and the Chinese government have reportedly produced lower Chinese import tariffs on automobiles. That has caused GM’s stock to rise.

Good thing, I guess, that those who own GM stock aren’t being harmed by this, unlike the thousands of American workers who will likely soon be out of work.

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Reposted from AAM

Will the Arrest of a Chinese Telecom Executive Derail Trade Talks?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Chinese government is very mad that an executive at its homegrown telecommunications giant, Huawei, is being held in Canada at the request of the United States for her alleged role in helping the company evade sanctions around doing business with Iran.

How mad? We’re talking Summon-The-Ambassador mad.

Dang, that’s pretty mad. But that said, Chinese media has taken pains to not link the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, to the ongoing trade talks between Beijing and the Trump administration. This is significant because, as one expert observer told Reuters, “if you don’t see any discussions in Chinese media, that’s the intention of the (Chinese) government.”

The United States is doing its part to delink the stories, too. Trump administration officials were on television this weekend calling the Huawei arrest a separate “criminal justice matter.”

But it remains to be seen if the case will bleed into the talks. In China, for instance, outrage over the arrest has boiled into calls for a boycott of Apple products and some companies even announcing plans to use nothing but Huawei products. And no one really believes the arrest, which happened the same day President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping sat down for trade discussions in Argentina, aren’t linked.

In the United States, meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is pushing legislation that would ban Huawei from doing business in America. That would be, uh, quite the escalation; because of its murky links to the Chinese government the company is already more-or-less banned from the U.S. government procurement market, and other countries (Australia, New Zealand, and now Japan) are following suit. If Sen. Rubio’s effort are somehow successful, it certainly would raise the bad blood between the two governments trying to resolve a major trade dispute. 

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Ford Is About to Start Cranking Out Rangers in Michigan

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Ranger is coming back to United States, and it’s almost here.

The Detroit Free Press had the story a few days ago about how the Ford Motor Company and the United Autoworkers worked together to bring the iconic truck’s production to southwest Michigan:

In the spring of 2015, Joe Hinrichs (president of global operations at Ford) and then-UAW President Dennis Williams, and Williams' executive administrative assistant, Chuck Browning, met for a private lunch near the Detroit airport.

Hinrichs asked how labor might feel if Ford moved production of the Ford Focus sedan from Michigan to Mexico, and then retooled Wayne Assembly to build SUVs. The plan would need to be part of an upcoming labor contract, and Ford didn’t want to make the move without knowing if the UAW might support it.

“They were very supportive,” Hinrichs said. “They knew the workforce would love building the Ranger and Bronco again. So, we ended up making it part of the 2015 negotiations. This is a great story of collaboration between Ford and the UAW.”

That collaboration is about to pay off. After retooling its Michigan Assembly Plant and an afternoon of festivities in its parking lot …

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While Trump Trade Fights Gain Steam, Manufacturing Still Gaining Jobs

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

President Trump’s trade fight with China continues on multiple fronts. This dispute the president is prosecuting against Beijing is a big deal that is regularly overtaken by other events in the news cycle, and it isn’t helped that the president himself is, ummm, an imperfect messenger to make sense of it all. Lord knows what he’s tweeting about today.

In spite of whatever faults one may find in the presidential rhetoric, though, manufacturing jobs have been on the uptick under this administration.  And stories of metals consuming businesses, in spite of tariffs on steel and aluminum, still pop up. Like this one out of Hillsborough County, Florida:

Report: The American Freight Rail Network is Unguarded and At Risk

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Concern is growing about increased Chinese investment in the American economy.

So much so that the Trump administration has recently stepped up oversight into transactions that might affect national security. After Congress signed off on this expansion, the New York Times earlier this month reported “the administration signaled that it would apply its new authority very broadly and would review any foreign transaction involving a business that designs or produces technology related to 27 industries, including telecom, semiconductors and computers.”

Into this climate comes a new report from Brig. Gen. John Adams, U.S. Army (Ret.), on the security threats facing the American freight rail network. (You remember Gen. Adams -- he prepared for the Alliance for American Manufacturing a 2013 study of military supply chain vulnerabilities.)

To illustrate the threats facing rail, Adams’ report focuses on China’s national rail company, its recent entry in the American rail market, and its tie-in to the much-discussed Chinese industrial policy – Made in China 2025, which identifies rail as a critical manufacturing sector to dominate.

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What Lessons Can Be Learned from NAFTA?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

What are America’s shifting politics around trade going to mean for the upcoming midterm elections? What lessons from the passage of NAFTA – and approximately 25 years of living with it – can advocates for American manufacturing and workers apply to its proposed replacement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement?

Those were the among the topics of discussion today at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, where an expert panel unpacked the politics and policy influencing our dynamic nationwide trade debate.

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul participated, and had this to say:

I don’t believe USMCA or trade are going to be major election issues. … I think an interesting question, though, is how does (USMCA) get passed? Because, ultimately, the congress has to approve it. And when you think about it, there’s not a good past reference to this. In ’93 (when NAFTA passed), you had a largely Democratic setup. Bill Clinton promised changes, it squeaks through with a number of deals and logrolling built into it. We were coming off a bad economy and into a better economy.

“Then in 2015-16, TPP gets done. You have a Republican Congress that should want to do this because they’re all-free traders, and a president (Barack Obama) who largely agrees with their agenda on this, and it doesn’t happen!

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Canada Erects Steel Safeguard Tariffs

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Time for another steel tariffs update!

A few months ago, Canada was considering erecting safeguard tariffs against certain steel products after America’s broad steel tariffs caused a surge of dubiously cheap imports to wash up in the Canadian market.

It looks like Canada is done considering. Those safeguards are going up. Reports the Wall Street Journal:

The goal of the so-called safeguard measures is to prevent a surge of overseas steel imports from entering Canadian markets. Canada’s steel industry has complained in recent months that U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, imposed on national-security grounds and affecting most countries, have caused more shipments of cheap steel to be diverted to Canada from the U.S. …

The new measures could address concerns from the Trump administration that foreign companies are using Canada as a backdoor to move their metals into the U.S., trade watchers say. Canada is trying to convince the U.S. to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, which it imposed earlier this year on national-security grounds. Canada is the largest foreign supplier to the U.S. of both metals.  

The national security tariffs on steel and aluminum were not lifted as a result of the renegotiated NAFTA, and have been received as an insult north of the border, according to Politico’s Alexander Panetta.   

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Union Matters

A Billionaire with a Truly Bottom-Line Moral Code

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Some advice for billionaire investment fund manager Tom Barrack: Don’t give any more lectures on morality. Last Tuesday, this long-time Donald Trump pal — and chairman of his inauguration — did a bit too much moralizing. Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Barrack called the hand-wringing over Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in the savage murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi “a mistake.” After all, he noted, “we have a young man and a regime that’s trying to push themselves into 2030.” We ought not, Barrack added, try “to dictate” the Saudi “moral code.” The pushback would be quick and massive. On Wednesday, Barrack apologized, but didn’t, news reports noted, “retract praise for the crown prince.” One possible reason: Barrack’s investment fund has tanked of late, its share price down by over half. Barrack has raised over $1.5 billion in bailout aid from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He may be hoping for still more.

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Let's Talk About Wealth

Let's Talk About Wealth