Leveling the Playing Field Globally


The NAM works to identify and address trade barriers across the globe and works to improve standards through negotiations of agreements and other mechanisms.


Foreign Trade Distortions

Manufacturers in the United States face even tougher competition than a decade ago, oftentimes by government-backed foreign competitors who are not required to play by the same rules, or who have been advantaged by foreign subsidies and other market-distorting activities that shut out made-in-America products from foreign markets and distort trade in the United States and elsewhere.

The NAM works to eliminate such barriers and improve standards of fairness in countries around the world, including through the identification of foreign market distortions and trade barriers and work with U.S. and foreign governments to eliminate such distortions and their harm to manufacturers in the United States.

Protection of Intellectual Property

Innovation and intellectual property (IP) are the lifeblood of the American economy, and the foundation for a competitive manufacturing base in the United States. Strong IP protection and enforcement enables manufacturers to build new industries and create and sustain high-paying American jobs. Vigorous protection and enforcement of IP rights at home and abroad against those who would steal our innovative ideas and products is a necessity to sustain and grow manufacturing in the United States. IP protection and enforcement is increasingly important in the face of rampant global counterfeiting and piracy, attacks on global intellectual property frameworks, and country-specific challenges in key markets such as China, India, Russia, Colombia, and Canada.

The NAM works extensively to improve global standards and the protection and enforcement of IP rights around the world, including through the identification of foreign government failures to protect and enforce IP rules and through work with U.S. and foreign governments to improve foreign IP standards and enforcement.

Investment and ISDS

Foreign investment – both foreign investment in U.S. manufacturing and overseas investment by U.S. manufacturers – are critical to promote manufacturing growth and competitiveness in the United States. U.S. investment overseas enables manufacturers to reach new customers and participate in foreign infrastructure projects, supporting higher levels of U.S. exports, R&D and capital expenditures and higher-paying jobs in the United States.

The NAM works vigorously to promote an open, fair and rules-based investment climate in the United States and globally, backed up by transparent and strong enforcement mechanisms, including investment arbitration when foreign governments steal U.S. property or treat U.S. companies unfairly.

Standards and Regulatory Barriers

Foreign standards, technical regulations, and testing requirements are increasingly under the microscope as potential barriers for manufacturers in the United States given that such measures set the “ground rules” for products to compete in marketplaces around the world. The U.S. Department of Commerce found that 92 percent of U.S. exports may face foreign technical regulations in foreign countries and that those regulations more than doubled between 2005 and 2015. These regulatory and technical standards and conformity assessment requirements increase significantly the cost of U.S. manufacturing exports to countries around the world, unfairly advantaging foreign competitors and harming the ability of manufacturers in the United States to support and grow good-paying U.S. jobs.

The NAM works to promote transparent, consultative and science-based regulatory processes and outcomes that do not discriminate against U.S. manufactured goods, including through identification of problematic standards and regulations overseas and work with U.S. and foreign governments to address such barriers.

Free Trade Agreements

As the United States has opened foreign markets through the adoption of 20 free trade agreements (FTAs) with 14 partner countries, manufacturing output in the United States has grown and manufacturers in the United States have experienced particularly high levels of success in markets that have been opened by these agreements. FTAs require U.S. partner countries to open their markets and eliminate market-distorting government activities, including through eliminating foreign tariffs on U.S. manufactured goods and adopting higher standards to protect and enforce intellectual property rights and basic property rights for U.S. investors, the adoption of transparent and non-discriminatory regulatory and competition systems and other standards that improve U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.

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.

World Trade Organization

Established in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is the primary global institution that promotes the implementation, enforcement and updating of the global commercial rules. With over 160 member countries and rules covering 98 percent of global trade, the WTO has opened markets for U.S. manufacturers and has put in place base-line rules to eliminate and discipline foreign market-distortions that can harm manufacturers in the United States. The WTO monitoring activities and dispute settlement system have enabled the United States to ensure that countries make good on their promises. The WTO has also propelled the negotiation of some new agreements that open markets for information and communications technologies and will cut red tape and barriers at foreign borders While the WTO has been critical to U.S. export growth, further improvements at the WTO are necessary to improve its ability to eliminate foreign market-distorting activities and trade barriers and ensure strong and timely enforcement of WTO rules.

The NAM works to ensure that WTO commitments are fully enforced and to promote new negotiations to open markets and eliminate foreign government market-distortions that will improve the global competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States.

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