Improving Manufacturers’ Global Competitiveness


Countries around the world view the growth of their own manufacturing sectors as critical to their long-term growth—and in many cases are seeking to improve their own domestic manufacturers’ competitiveness through a variety of tools that disadvantage U.S. manufacturing. As a result, manufacturers in the United States face even tougher competition than a decade ago and need updates to U.S. government activities to ensure a more level playing field.

The NAM works to improve trade- and related rules to improve the global competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States, including rules related to trade facilitation and customs, export controls and export financing, the miscellaneous tariff bill and conflict minerals.


Customs and Trade Facilitation

Outdated customs and border policies cost American manufacturers billions of dollars a year in increased operating costs, and undermine the ability of manufacturers to move goods in and out of the United States efficiently. Border bottlenecks and red tape impede the just-in-time manufacturing process that is so critical to the productivity and growth of the U.S. manufacturing sector. More must be done in the United States and globally to create new modern operating procedures that facilitate the efficient movement of goods while protecting the integrity and authenticity of those goods.

The NAM supports a new approach for U.S. and global customs processing that is based on strong risk-management principles and provides security without disrupting international commerce that is vital to American industry. The NAM is also actively working to implement the new global Trade Facilitation Agreement that will cut red tape and barriers at foreign borders.

Export Controls

Manufacturers of high-technology goods invest heavily in innovation to remain ahead of global competition and provide new solutions for evolving national security threats. These efforts are undermined, however, by outdated and ineffective U.S. export control system. The exponential growth of the internet as well as the rapid development of international commerce have transformed world trade and created new complexities for technology transfer, licensing and enforcement. Despite long-running efforts to update these regulations, the U.S. government can do more to bring predictability, efficiency and transparency to the export control system.

The NAM works with the U.S. government to modernize its approach to export controls, adopting polices that avoid unnecessary burdens on legitimate exports, facilitate international cooperation with our allies and focus resources on areas of concerns.


The outdated U.S. tariff code undermines manufacturing in the United States, particularly the operations of small manufacturers, by placing tariffs on products not produced and available domestically. In some cases, the United States is imposing a higher cost on manufacturers’ inputs, while allowing foreign finished products to enter the U.S. duty free or with lower tariffs. The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) process has long provided a temporary correction to such harmful distortions by eliminating or reducing duties on imported products for which there is no or insufficient domestic production and availability.

The NAM leads industry efforts to promote a transparent, regularized and updated MTB process to correct such distortions and advance the competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States.

Conflict Minerals

Conflict minerals such as gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten, are necessary components in many manufactured goods. As part of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 Congress mandated disclosure requirements for publicly traded companies on their use of conflict minerals, which the NAM has estimated cost manufacturers billions to implement while not achieving the statutory purpose. This provision has been found to be an unconstitutional, but the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) continues to maintain part of the requirement.

The NAM works to promote the negotiation and adoption of strong, fair and enforceable FTAs that will grow manufacturing in the United States, as well as their full implementation.

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