Category: From Alliance for American Manufacturing

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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White House Puts Out Its Plan for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

I know we say this a lot, but there’s a lot going on these days.

So, we wouldn’t blame you if you missed this piece of news: Earlier this month, the Trump administration officially unveiled its strategy for strengthening American leadership in advanced manufacturing.

Put together by the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Advanced Manufacturing, the 40-page strategy document focuses on three key goals: the development and transition of new manufacturing technologies, the education and training of the manufacturing workforce, and the expansion of domestic manufacturing across the supply chain.

Strategic objectives for achieving each goal are included in the report, along with specific outcomes that are designed to be accomplished within four years. The plan received input from across the federal government, and many federal agencies are tasked with helping to achieve the objectives.

For example, the strategy includes priorities like expanding apprenticeships and career and technical education pathways; properly enforcing Buy American policies; and recognizing the role of programs like Manufacturing USA and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership in stimulating innovation and supporting small and mid-sized manufacturers.

And although it’s a product of the Trump administration, the new strategy began long before The Donald even came on the D.C. scene, when Congress passed the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act back in 2014.

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Senators Tell the Federal Trade Commission to Get Tougher on “Made in the USA” Cheats

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Nearly 4,000 people signed onto our action last week urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to impose tougher penalties on companies that falsely label their imported products as “Made in USA.”

It turns out a few Senators also sent a similar message of their own to the agency.

Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), and Chris Murphy (Conn.) sent a letter to the FTC on Oct. 12 to “express our concerns with ‘no-fault, no-money’ settlements for ‘Made in the USA’ labeling violations” and “urge the Commission to take all steps necessary to protect the integrity of the label.” The trio continue:

“Consumers view American-made goods more positively and are often willing to pay a higher price for them. In addition, consumers may be less likely to have health or quality concerns about a product when its true country of origin is concealed. If the consequences of misusing the “Made in the USA” label do not include paying fines or admitting wrongdoing, it is unlikely that these and other companies will be deterred from using the same deceptive tactics to sell their products in the future.” 

The senators specifically were responding to recent rulings by the FTC that found three individual companies labeled their products as “Made in USA” but actually imported them from countries like China.

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No Surprise Here: U.S. Defense Supply Chain is Reliant on China & Other Rivals, Report Finds

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza Press Secretary, AAM

The Defense Department released an urgent report on Friday outlining how its supply chains are alarmingly reliant on China and other potential military rivals for essential materials.

How can the U.S. military properly defend our nation if it can’t source what it needs from domestic sources -- and instead must depend on potential adversaries for those materials?

The simple answer: it can’t.

This shouldn’t be surprising, though.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has been sounding the alarm on this pressing issue since 2013, when we published a report that identified many of the same weaknesses in our military supply chains and overall defense preparedness.

Authored by Brig. Gen. John Adams, U.S. Army (Ret.), ReMaking American Security found glaring gaps in our military’s ability to source materials that produce everything from steel armor plate and lithium ion batteries to hellfire missile propellant and biological weapons defense—important tools that could mean life or death for Americans in combat.

The origin of many of these weaknesses is the fact that our leaders have neglected our vital manufacturing sector for too long. Every action—or inaction—has a consequence, and these cracks in America’s armor have only widened because Washington fails to thoroughly back policies that support the factories, workers, and mines that source the essential resources and goods our military requires.

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American Manufacturers Can Lead the World to a Cleaner, Brighter Future

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher/Writer, AAM

The United Nations’ climate change report issued on Monday is nothing short of terrifying. But as scientists consistently exhort, we can stabilize our climate future — and another report finds that manufacturing can lead the way.

Supporting domestic manufacturing rather than outsourcing our pollution to countries with less stringent pollution standards is the first step in addressing America’s emissions, but there’s still plenty American manufacturers can do to increase energy efficiency. These improvements would not only support a cleaner environment, but also usher manufacturers into a market that promises substantial growth and new workforce opportunities.

“Working people are counting on us to reduce emissions and create high-quality jobs,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a press release for the report.

As transportation and power become more energy-efficient, national attention should turn to continuing progress for industry as well, according to the report produced by Third Way, the AFL-CIO, and the Council on Competitiveness.

Industrial emissions represent the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in America when including emissions from power generation to the sectors that use the energy.

“If we're serious about fighting climate change, we simply can't leave the industrial sector behind,” said Third Way Co-Founder and Senior Vice President Matt Bennett  in the report’s press release. “We'll need a variety of low-carbon technologies and processes to aggressively cut carbon in this sector. But we also need to include manufacturers and the millions of Americans they employ in this policy conversation and make sure they can be part of the climate solution.”

The past success of steel and iron producers in dramatically reducing their industrial emissions shines as an example of what can be done. By implementing improvements in energy efficiency, these sub-sectors reduced their emissions by almost 60 percent between 1990 and 2016.

But many other American manufacturers have also spearheaded energy-efficient practices and continue to do so.

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U.S.-China Trade Fight Increasingly Includes Currency

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The last time the United States labeled China a currency manipulator was 1994. It looks like it might be preparing to do so again.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whose department is responsible for the biannual report (due out next week) that identifies currency distortions around the globe, didn’t flat out say so in an interview with the Financial Times, instead saying Treasury was “very carefully” monitoring the Chinese renminbi, which has fallen significantly during the past year.

But there has been speculation for some time that the Trump administration might take the plunge and place China on this list as part of the larger trade dispute between Washington and Beijing. And now other senior (and anonymous) Treasury officials are worrying about the trading value of the renminbi, too, before Secretary Mnuchin travels to a meeting of finance ministers in Indonesia.  

Naming China (or any other country) a currency manipulator via this report doesn’t immediately do anything. It doesn’t trigger sanctions, but it would require the administration to enter into direct talks with the country it accuses. And it would likely further chill relations between the Trump administration and Xi Jinping’s government in the context of the ongoing trade dispute.

While it’s hard to see how relations could get icier, currency manipulation is a big deal. By keeping a currency undervalued, a country can make its exports less expensive and imports more so. That has directly contributed to the yawning U.S. goods trade deficit with China in years past and has cost the United States a substantial number of jobs.

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Competitors Moved Offshore, But Nokona Still Makes Its Baseball Gloves in America

Jeffrey Bonior

Jeffrey Bonior Researcher/Writer, AAM

It’s the changing of the seasons as summer has eased into autumn. The kids are back in school. Darkness has begun to encompass more hours of the day.

Sports fans feel the changes, too. Football is back in earnest. The hockey season has returned.

And it’s time for October baseball!

Major League Baseball (MLB) begins its postseason series play on Thursday with the beginning of divisional series matchups. Eight of 30 MLB teams remain left in the hunt, hoping to become World Series Champions.

Americans have long had a love affair with baseball. Although the sport has deep roots in the United States — it is our National Pastime, after all — in recent years many foreign countries have had success in the business of baseball.

A lot of the baseball equipment sold in stores today is made by people living in countries where the average worker earns less money in one week than it costs to purchase a ticket to see one New York Yankees game. In the baseball glove market, popular brands like Wilson, Spalding and Mizuno are mostly manufactured offshore and imported into the United States.

But baseball is going to stay as American as a hot dog if Rob Storey has anything to say about it.

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The New NAFTA Has an Interesting Rule In It

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

A NAFTA renegotiation has been completed. Go put your transition shades on and head out to the Rose Garden to join President Trump for a victory lap!

It’s not a done deal, of course. Legislatures in all three countries will need to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and, given the complicated politics of trade in this country, that is no sure thing.

But, as we said on Monday, there’s a lot that stands out in the text, including: stronger rules of origin for auto manufacturing, side letters on steel and auto tariffs, and improved labor protections for Mexican workers that could ultimately help workers in America. Vox explains:  

One of the biggest complaints against Mexico right now is that labor unions are largely controlled by employers, and workers are not even part of contract negotiations. So it’s no wonder why Mexican factory workers are earning so little. The average hourly wage for factory workers in Mexico is just over $2 an hour, and the country’s minimum wage is roughly $4.15 for a full day’s work. These low wages attract US companies to operate in Mexico.

The new labor rules in Trump’s pact with Mexico are supposed to remove the incentive to keep Mexican workers living in poverty. Under the new deal, the United States can use the same dispute system to resolve labor complaints that NAFTA previously allowed only for commercial trade violations (such as exceeding trade quotas).

So that’s cool. But there’s other interesting stuff in there, too. What’s this new clause all about?

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As Trade War Ramps Up, China Wonders Aloud What Trump’s Intentions Are

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

An interesting story appeared in today’s Washington Post, about China’s shifting reaction to the burgeoning trade war with the United States. Reporter Anna Fifield spoke to Paul Haenle, a former Bush and Obama administration China policy adviser, who had this to say:

“Early on, the Chinese had a very simple narrative that all this trade stuff was about Trump's short-term political objectives, about getting a tweetable victory. … Now, they’re at the other end of the spectrum. Now it’s all about the U.S. trying to block China’s rise.”

Huh. The article lists the other evidence the Chinese state media has pointed to. The revival of the “Quad” dialogue. The possibility of U.S. sanctions over human rights abuses against Muslim Uighurs in China’s west. The suspicious date of the latest U.S. tariffs, which happened to line up with the anniversary of the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria! It’s beginning to look downright conspiratorial, and it’s all right in front of their noses: The United States is out to get China.  

But we should cut them some slack. Though it may be easy to roll your eyes at such commentary coming from state organs in China, a lot of people have a hard time wrapping their heads around President Trump.

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We Have a NAFTA — Er, USMCA — Deal!

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) lives — under a new name, anyway.

Leaders from the United States, Canada, and Mexico announced on late Sunday night that they reached an agreement to update NAFTA, the trilateral trade deal that President Trump long has wanted to overhaul. The announcement came just before a self-imposed midnight deadline to get the deal done, and literally at the 11th hour: The White House held a conference call with reporters at 11 p.m. Eastern time.

In typical Trump fashion, the new NAFTA has new branding: It’s now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

It’s an exciting development, and one that many astute observers didn’t expect was possible just a few days ago. But don’t break out the champagne quite yet.

While all three USMCA leaders are expected to sign the accord within 60 days — including, crucially, the outgoing Mexican president —Congress also needs to approve the new pact, as do legislative bodies in Mexico and Canada. In the United States, congressional approval isn’t a guarantee, especially if Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives following the midterm elections in November.

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Union Matters

Your Vote is the Last Line of Defense Against One-Party Control

Hugh J. Campbell

Hugh J. Campbell Son of a steelworker, Philadelphia, Pa.

The bottom line of Adam Serwer’s The Guardrails Have Failed is: “As for Kavanaugh, every opinion he writes, every decision he joins, and every day he sits on the bench will be tainted with illegitimacy.” Senators who represent a shrinking portion of the population confirmed a justice more Americans oppose than support. He was nominated by a president for whom most of the electorate did not vote. Republican control of the three branches of government is countermajoritarian. With the guardrails of separated powers broken, the last remaining defense for American democracy and the rule of law is the electorate itself.

Since April 8, 2017, when Neil Gorsuch became Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the United States Government has been controlled by one political party. Why is this important?

In his Oct. 15, 2011 Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on separation of powers, Justice Antonin Scalia tells us: The real constitution of the Soviet Union, that constitution did not prevent the centralization of power in one person or in one party. And when that happens, the game is over, the Bill of Rights is just what our Framers would call a “parchment guarantee.”

Unless the Republican party ceases to control the legislative branch of the U.S. government in January, 2019, centralization of power will continue in one party, the Republican Party, for another 24 months, and if Donald Trump has his way, that centralization of power will be in one person.

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Unions for All, Unions for 15

Unions for All, Unions for 15