Category: From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Congress Has Ironed Out Its TIVSA Disagreements

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

You might think Congress is entirely tied up in the impeachment hearings. But no!

On Monday, House and Senate negotiators agreed to a compromise version of the massive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets in place policy and spending for Department of Defense. Tucked in this huge conference report is legislation modeled on the Transportation Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act (TIVSA) that would bar federal dollars from being used to purchase rolling stock – rail cars or buses – from state-owned or -controlled companies. In effect this meant big Chinese companies, whose presence in the American bus and rail car markets has grown significantly in recent years.

Both the House and Senate versions of the NDAA included TIVSA language, and while the Senate’s TIVSA was comprehensive the House’s carved out electric buses from this legislation. In the end, though, the TIVSA language on which the negotiators agreed leaned toward the Senate version; it was more comprehensive.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) thinks this is a good outcome. Detailed reports have shown CRRC and BYD – a Chinese state-owned rail car manufacturer and a state-supported bus manufacturer, respectively, that have growing footprints in the American market – maintain close ties to the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese military, and huge telecom companies like Huawei, which currently sits on a Commerce Department export blacklist because of national security concerns.

AAM President Scott Paul applauded Congress for recognizing that such companies “operate as extensions of China’s government.” Said Paul:

“By moving forward with this legislation, Congress is defending our transportation infrastructure against deeply subsidized Chinese companies that threaten to disrupt our manufacturing capabilities and displace tens of thousands of American jobs throughout our supply chain of parts and components.”

Read the reports on BYD and CRRC here.

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Reposted from AAM

It’s Time for Trade Negotiators to Start Talking About China’s Human Rights Abuses

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

The “phase one” trade deal between the United States and China is… probably done?

President Trump on Friday took to Twitter to announce the deal, which he called “very large” and “an amazing deal for all.” But specific details about the agreement remain unclear — and what is out about it doesn’t seem to be all that great.

But while political pundits are laser-focused on how the deal will impact things like tariff rates and agricultural purchases, evidence is mounting that China is adding “a sickening new dimension” to one of the world’s most serious human rights crises.

And although U.S. trade negotiators have strategically stayed quiet about China’s human rights abuses in an effort to get a trade deal done — and although China really does not like to talk about them — given that these abuses impact the global supply chain and overall trade flows… maybe it’s time to start talking about them?

It’s long been reported that China has placed at least 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities from the Xinjiang region into concentration camps, which China says are “vocational training centers.”

But in November, The New York Times published a bombshell report that included 400+ pages of internal Chinese Communist Party documents that showcased just how orchestrated this effort is — even Chinese leader Xi Jinping is implicated. Other leaks from inside the camps provide a glimpse into life inside, describing how China uses physical and psychological torture in an attempt to rid the Uighurs and other detainees of their language, religion and culture.

Sadly, it doesn’t appear that things improve for these prisoners once they leave the camps, either. A new paper from Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, finds that China is placing “limited but apparently growing numbers of detainees… into different forms of forced labor.” Zenz writes:

“19 cities and provinces from the nation’s most developed regions are pouring billions of Chinese Yuan (RMB) into the establishment of factories in minority regions. Some of them directly involve the use of internment camp labor, while others use Uyghur women who must then leave their children in educational or day care facilities in order to engage in full time factory labor. Another aspect of Beijing’s labor schemes in the region involve the essentially mandatory relocation of large numbers of minority workers from Xinjiang to participating companies in eastern China.

“Soon, many or most products made in China that rely at least in part on low-skilled, labor-intensive manufacturing, may contain elements of involuntary ethnic minority labor from Xinjiang.”

Zenz’s entire paper is worth a read, as it makes clear the extent to which China is using forced labor in many of its factories. But Zenz isn’t the first to highlight this problem — there long has been evidence that China is using forced labor to make many of the products that line our store shelves, particularly in textiles.

The New York Times reported on these forced labor factories about a year ago, and around that time the Associated Press even connected one of the factories to a U.S. sportswear supplier. Companies from Kraft Heinz and Coca-Cola to Adidas and Gap also run supply chains through Xinjiang, meaning that it is plausible, if not certain, that at least some of their products have been made in these factories.  

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Bipartisan Bill Aims to Make Sure Drinking Water Infrastructure is Made in America

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

We’ve been so lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season that we didn’t get a chance to talk about an important bipartisan bill introduced last month that aims to improve a key piece of America’s infrastructure — and create good-paying jobs, too.

Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and David McKinley (R-W. Va.) put forth the “Buy America for Drinking Water Extension Act” on Nov. 20. The legislation would permanently ensure that all iron and steel products used for projects in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund are “made entirely in the United States.”

The revolving fund is a federal-state partnership that is used to finance projects to improve drinking water systems nationwide. Between 1997 and 2018, the fund has given more than $38.2 billion in low-interest loans to more than 14,500 projects, helping provide safe drinking water to millions of Americans.

Still, more needs to be done. Like most of America’s infrastructure, our nation’s drinking water infrastructure is in terrible shape. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave it a “D” rating in 2017, noting that the 1 million miles of pipes that deliver water to our homes in businesses were laid in the early-to-mid 20th century.

Given that these pipes have a lifespan of 75 to 100 years, it’s time to get to work modernizing these systems. And when we do, it’s important to also make sure our tax dollars are reinvested back into our communities, creating jobs and boosting the local economy, which is the goal of the new legislation.

Although they might at first seem like separate issues, jobs and infrastructure are closely linked. It’s no secret, after all, that the places that were hit hardest by manufacturing job loss and industrial flight in the late 20th century also watched their infrastructure crumble.

Perhaps the most famous example of this is Flint, Michigan.

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New Bipartisan Legislation Aims to Make it Tougher for China to Dodge Trade Laws

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced a new bill on Tuesday to “crack down on unfair trade cheating from nonmarket economies like China.”

O.K., we know: We need to be more specific here.

The Senators want to give the Commerce Department more power to hold China and other countries accountable when they evade anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing duties (CVD).

For those unfamiliar with this area of U.S. trade law, the United States issues AD/CVD duties when imported products are found to be sold below market value or to have received significant government subsidies when being produced. The idea is to level the playing field a bit for American workers and companies, who operate in a free and open market.

As the Senators note, AD/CVD rules are pretty common, and most countries follow them without issue. But nonmarket economies — especially China — work overtime to dodge these duties, engaging in “a sophisticated and government-backed effort to avoid the duties required.”

For example, China “alters their products slightly to get around the rules, violating the spirit of the law, if not the letter.” It isn’t individual Chinese companies doing this, remember: China uses “its vast government resources” to ensure these firms are able to evade U.S. trade laws and avoid the duties.

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We’re Revisiting Some of Our Favorite Past Made in America Holiday Gift Guide Picks

We're putting the finishing touches on the 2019 Made in America Holiday Gift Guide, our annual assortment of American-made gift ideas from every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. We work hard every year to pick new items, and the vast majority come from companies that never have been on the list before. We also try to include an eclectic mix of ideas at a range of price points — there's something for everyone on your list!

The 2019 guide is scheduled to be released on Monday, Nov. 25. But in the meantime, we've been reminising about our favorite items from past gift guides, and thought we'd share some of them below. You can also check out the full guides from previous years below.

2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

Staff Picks

AMERICAN ROOTS 

With the cold blast of air blanketing most of the U.S. this week, all I can think about is something warm to wear to brave the sub-freezing temperatures. My choice to stay warm is fleece. American Roots is a Made in Maine company that offers a full line of custom-made fleece products, including jackets, vests, pullovers, hoodies, blankets, and even hats. I particularly like the fleece vests, which are unencumbering when worn with layers of garments underneath and do not feel or appear bulky when paired with a heavy winter coat. Like the hoodies, the vests are an added layer of protection that can comfortably be worn around the house if you feel a draft of cold air coming through the windows. Owners Ben Waxman and Whitney Reynolds launched American Roots in 2015 — the company made the 2016 gift guide — with the specific goal of manufacturing clothing in America again. Also worth noting? The employees are represented by the United Steelworkers union. Now, all I need is a fireplace and some hot chocolate. —Jeff Bonior

DEARBORN DENIM

A good pair of denim jeans is hard to find, and I used to go through too many of them. I commute by bike, and five days a week on a bike seat will wear through your imported Levi’s pretty fast! That’s why I switched over to buying Dearborn Denim, which made the 2016 guide. They’re tough and won’t rip on you. The company’s website has a nifty feature that will tell you which size jeans you should buy (just enter your height and weight). And lastly, as a Chicagoland expat, I’m very proud to be able to buy jeans that are made in the Windy City. We will win the Super Bowl someday—Matthew McMullan

GREEN TOYS

AAM first put Green Toys on our gift guide list way back in 2013, and the California company continues to be a kid-friendly favorite.  I have two young children of my own, so I can personally vouch that these eco-friendly, BPA-free toys are always a hit with babies and young kids. The stacking cups and First Keys are great options for infants and the line of bath toys provide plenty of bathtub fun. My kids also have enjoyed the Dump TruckShape SorterHouse PlaysetSandwich Shop, and Build-a-Bouquet — and for the past two springs, we've planted a little garden with the Abby's Garden Planting Activity Set, a collaboration with Sesame Street. Another great thing about the company? Green Toys are made from recycled milk jugs, and everything is packaged in recycled cardboard, cutting down on the plastic waste typically associated with toys. —Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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Don’t Let China’s State-Owned CRRC Build NYC’s Subway, State Lawmakers Say

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

As Congress continues to work on legislation to ban China’s government-owned, controlled or subsidized companies from receiving U.S. tax money to build rail cars and buses, local lawmakers are taking on the issue in their own states.

The latest instance is in New York, where state Assemblymember Michael Cusick (D) is teaming up with state Sen. Diane Savino (D) on a bill to prevent foreign state-owned enterprises, including the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), from using New York tax money on mass transportation projects.

Like federal lawmakers who have championed this issue, Cusick and Savino say they are worried about the security threats posed by allowing a firm with direct ties to the Chinese state apparatus to build critical infrastructure systems.

They point to recent testimony from former Department of Homeland Security Secretaries Michael Chertoff, Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, who all specifically mentioned critical infrastructure when discussing cyber security threats at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee field hearing in New York.

“There is wide consensus that allowing CRRC and other state-owned enterprises to have open access to our critical rail infrastructure and mass transportation systems is ill-advised,” Cusick said in a statement. “These contracts create major cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the U.S. The goal should be risk avoidance, not mitigation.”

There’s little doubt about China’s intentions with CRRC.

New research from Radarlock examined the company’s deep ties to China’s government, communist party and military, concluding that CRRC is a key part of China’s plan to dominate global industry. But it’s more than that – CRRC also obtains technology for potentially nefarious purposes, handing everything it gathers from its work abroad to the Chinese state and military.

Cusick and Savino say they are also worried about CRRC’s economic impact, noting that CRRC has nabbed contracts in major cities like Chicago and Los Angeles by “drastically underbidding other railcar manufacturers and using non-market tactics.”

The issue is of critical importance in the Empire State because New York City is looking to upgrade its iconic subway system. CRRC won a 2018 Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) contest to design new subway cars – a development that quickly drew the ire of Democratic Senate Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, who hails from New York.

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Report Highlights U.S.-China Priorities for Congressional Action

Cathalijne Adams Digital Media Manager, AAM

It’s been a big year in U.S.-China relations, and the conclusion of 2019 may or may not see the end of a trade war between the nations. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, charged with monitoring and investigating the national security implications of this bilateral economic relationship, has had plenty to keep an eye on.

Among a number of recommendations for congressional action in the Commission’s just-released annual report, several stand out in particular.

The Commission calls for Congress to address U.S. dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals – an issue to which we’ve been paying close attention to for some time. Just this past month, Michael Wessel, who sits on the U.S.-China Commission, laid out in testimony before a House committee China’s plans to dominate America’s drug supply as a means of securing economic supremacy but also to potentially “weaponize its supply chain should it so choose.”   

The Commission’s 2019 report recommends that Congress continue to hold hearings exploring U.S. dependence on China’s pharmaceuticals. However, the commission is clear on the goal of these hearings: Legislation that requires the Food and Drug Administration to identify pharmaceuticals that are manufactured exclusively in China or formulated with the active pharmaceutical ingredients made in China, as well as an investigation to determine whether those drugs are manufactured with as much regulation as pharmaceuticals produced in America.

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There’s a Lot of “Banned, Unsafe, Mislabeled” Stuff on Amazon That’s Imported From China

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Wall Street Journal has published a lengthy look at Amazon’s years-long effort to bring products directly from Chinese factories to me and you, the American consumer. How has this effort turned out?

Well, the title of the article is “Amazon’s Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Sellers Puts Consumers at Risk.” So … maybe good for The House That Jeff Built, but kinda bad for consumers!

This is another example of the Journal giving Amazon the business recently. Only a few weeks ago it reported that the company stubbornly lists for sale lots of clothing produced in Bangladeshi factories that even competitors like Walmart shun because of chronic violations of basic safety standards. And in August, the Journal detailed how little oversight the company has over the products sold on its platform, which results in “thousands of banned, unsafe or mislabeled products” floating around on there. The paper itself found more than 10,000 such items on the site between June and August.

And now comes today’s story. The paper reports that out of nearly 2,000 sellers of problematic items (whose addresses could be determined), more than half were based in China.

That’s the result of Amazon’s effort to “cut out the middleman” between Chinese manufacturers and America’s online shoppers.

That was the sales pitch an Amazon representative made this year at a trade event in Hong Kong … but it’s not an accurate description of what the company has been selling to the Chinese manufacturers it’s recruiting. The Journal cites another Amazonian who was much more on the nose in 2017 when she told a conference audience of Chinese business people: “We help factories directly open accounts on Amazon and sell to U.S. consumers directly. This is our value.”

These pitches appear to have been effective. Amazon doesn’t require its sellers to list where they’re located (or share that information), but the Journal cites an outside analysis of the 10,000 most-reviewed Amazon sellers that found approximately 38% of them are now located in China … a percentage that has increased steadily since Amazon began recruiting Chinese sellers in 2013.

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How holiday favorite Wendell August Forge rose from the ashes, stronger than ever

Jeffrey Bonior Researcher/Writer, AAM

The artisans and craftsmen at Wendell August Forge have been making holiday-ready hand-hammered metal gifts and ornaments in Mercer, Pa., for nearly 100 years.

But in 2010, it all went up in flames.

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Located about 40 miles north of downtown Pittsburgh — the capital of the American steel industry — America’s largest and oldest forge sits tucked away in an industrial part of Pennsylvania.

Forging is one of the oldest working techniques of artisans. It involves heating, hammering and shaping metal objects. Every Wendell August Forge piece follows this old school tradition, hand-shaped one at a time by the company’s craftsmen (who also are members of the United Steelworkers).

Wendell August Forge makes a variety of items, including holiday gifts — the company is well-known for its one-of-a-kind Christmas tree ornaments — and just launched a new line of NFL-themed coasters and keychains. The company also creates home décor items including bowls, dishes, cutting boards, glassware, and other tabletop pieces. Wendell August Forge has a gift for nearly every special occasion, including wedding gifts, commemorative gifts, baby gifts, Mother’s and Father’s days gifts and patriotic holidays. 

Will Knecht owns Wendell August Forge with his sister. His mother and father bought the company in 1978, and Knecht continues to take pride in the time-tested traditions of its past.

“We really believe in this thing called American craftsmanship. We get calls two or three times a quarter with people saying there is this factory in China that you guys should really consider, and it is no way,” Knecht said. “We were Made in America before it was cool to be Made in America, and we will continue to be Made in America.”

But the future of the tough-as-metal company looked grim in 2010, when a fire caused the factory, corporate offices and flagship retail store to burn to the ground. This was just after the company had gotten its largest order ever from the Pittsburgh Penguins National Hockey League team.

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Global Steel Industry Groups Unite for Action on Steel Excess Capacity Crisis

Monique Mansfield

Monique Mansfield Press Secretary, AAM

Steel industry associations in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia are urging their governments to intensify efforts to confront and solve the issue of excess capacity in the global steel sector.

Apparently, current methods just don’t seem to be working effectively!

The 19 associations involved released a statement, urging their various governments into action including implementing “strong rules and remedies that reduce excess capacity, its impact and causes.”

Just get some strong rules going! Sounds like a simple fix, right?

The solution becomes more complicated as the unexpected growth of new steelmaking facilities have contributed to trade tensions and have aroused some concern. Wherever could those be? The steel industries concurrently agree that the systems in place aren’t working and that “efforts by the governments to eliminate practices that lead to excess capacity should be doubled.” And they also praised a September statement from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that expressed concern over the recent capacity expansions.

In the statement the associations said they’re “hopeful that the diligent efforts of Japan, the current G20 Chair, are successful in extending the G20 Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity beyond 2019.” That means these industries want these global organizations to keep talking about fixes to the overcapacity problem.

But let’s be clear about where the overcapacity problem starts and stops: In China.  

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Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work