Timmons Talks Trade, Economy and Jobs
Solid international relationships will see us through any crisis, and artificial intelligence will add jobs to manufacturing, not remove them. Those were just two of the messages driven home by NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons during a Yahoo! Finance interview this week.
- Timmons gave the interview after a busy few days in London as part of the Competing to Win Tour in Europe, where he met with U.K. leaders and the U.S. ambassador to discuss strengthening the U.S.–U.K. alliance.
Trade deal needed: To ensure future manufacturing competitiveness, the U.S. needs a “robust agenda” from the Biden administration—now, said Timmons.
- “We haven’t seen a trade deal negotiated in our country or with our country for four presidencies,” continued Timmons. “We’re growing manufacturing in the United States thanks to the 2017 tax reforms, thanks to the infrastructure investment legislation, thanks to the CHIPS and Science Act.”
- “But … 95% of the world’s customers live outside of the United States. And we can strengthen our supply chains and we can also sell our products if we have the right trade agreements in place.”
Uniting to solve problems: Reinvigorating historic alliances is crucial to overcoming “any obstacle,” said Timmons.
- “[W]e want to make sure that our allies are … able to work together to solve some of these big macroeconomic issues, whether it’s a banking crisis or whether it’s increasing trade opportunities,” Timmons said.
AI: Meanwhile, AI will only expand and improve workers’ jobs, not replace human beings, Timmons said.
- AI is “going to [have] an incredibly positive impact on the sector because it is going to enhance manufacturing capability and output and it’s going to be a supplement to jobs all across the world,” Timmons said.
- “Think about all the technological advances we’ve had over the course of the last few decades, but especially the last five to 10 years. All of these advances have given additional capabilities to the workers.”
Filling jobs: Also needed is a strong workforce. Timmons discussed some of the findings of the NAM’s test Manufacturers Survey, in which nearly 75% of manufacturers cited attracting and retaining quality employees as a top challenge.
- He touched on some of the many initiatives of the Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate, to shore up labor force participation. These include second chance hiring, Creators Wanted—which seeks to inspire tomorrow’s workforce—and more.
The last word: “And that takes this full circle,” Timmons said. “Young people are learning new skills when it comes to technology. Robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, all of those things are what modern manufacturing is all about. And the next generation are the ones that are going to deliver for us.”
NAM to EPA: Don’t Change NAAQS Standards
The NAM continues to push back against proposed revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter.
What’s going on: On Tuesday NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Chris Morris urged the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its recent proposal to lower the primary annual particulate matter standard from 12.0 µg/m3 to between 8.0 and 10.0 µg/m3.
The big picture: “Manufacturers in the U.S. have become leaders in environmental stewardship and sustainability,” Morris pointed out.
- “Across the board, levels of major pollutants have declined dramatically, and the United States is outpacing our global competitors in air quality improvements,” he said.
- “According to the EPA, the U.S. has reduced six common NAAQS pollutants, including PM5, by 78% between 1970 and 2020. Additionally, the EPA data show that PM2.5 air quality has improved 43% between 2000 and 2020.”
The new regulations: The EPA’s new standards would impose a substantial economic burden on manufacturers, Morris continued.
- “First, there is the direct economic exposure manufacturers will face, which is a measure of the gross value added or employment in the manufacturing sector that could be affected or [placed] at risk,” he said.
- “Second is the indirect economic exposure of manufacturing as a result of a stricter PM5 standard. This refers to the effects on the sector as the consequences are felt throughout the supply chain due to decreased overall investment.”
By the numbers: The EPA has estimated the total cost of the controls required for compliance with the proposed standard at up to $1.8 billion—and that figure could go higher, the agency admitted.
- This expensive policy will lead to job losses and fewer new manufacturing facilities, as well as fewer modernizations and expansions to existing facilities, Morris continued.
Unattainable standards: What’s more, some areas in the U.S. are “in non-attainment” with the current PM2.5 standard, so a stricter standard will only put them further out of compliance, Morris told the EPA.
What should be done: To keep U.S. manufacturing competitive and to safeguard well-paying jobs, Morris said, the EPA should maintain the current annual particulate-matter standard of 12.0 µg/m3 and withdraw its proposal.
The NAM in action: The NAM has been rallying manufacturers across the country to speak out against the EPA’s proposal and calling on Congress to oppose these harmful regulations.
- During the 2023 State of Manufacturing address last month, Timmons announced the launch of a nationwide campaign to maintain these standards in order to protect manufacturers.
The NAM Revives High-Level U.S.–U.K. Talks
The NAM’s Competing to Win Tour in Europe moved on to London early this week, highlighting the imperative to shore up the U.S.–U.K. relationship—and to urgently address other barriers, like permitting reform and workforce shortages, to enable the U.S. to help allies in the face of Russian aggression and other geopolitical threats.
The issue: Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine, the aftermath of the worldwide pandemic and China’s quest for global leadership create a new urgency for expanded trade opportunities between democratic countries.
- The U.S. and the U.K. must work together to shore up supply chains, enhance energy security, boost resiliency and create growth, as NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons emphasized.
The details: Timmons crisscrossed London on Monday and Tuesday, promoting the manufacturing industry and reinforcing its priorities with senior government ministers and officials, including:
- Nigel Huddleston MP, the U.K. minister of state for international trade
- Jonathan Reynolds, Labour Party shadow business secretary (one of the architects of the Labour Party’s industrial plan)
- Jane Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s
Support at home: During his visit, Timmons did an interview with CNN International to discuss the NAM’s new Outlook survey, which found that 77% of manufacturers want to see more trade agreements with Europe.
Making industry connections: At the NAM’s sister organization Make UK, Timmons joined a roundtable with CEO Stephen Phipson and addressed some of Britain’s leading manufacturing companies.
- He spoke about how the U.S. and the U.K. can unlock new trading opportunities going forward and bolster democracy by strengthening commerce.
- The two groups also reaffirmed their commitment to share market intelligence, data and policy work, as well as to facilitate visits for economic delegations promoting trade, investment and commercial opportunities.
- They also voiced their continued and mutual support of the Ukrainian people and of the democratic institutions in their own countries.
What they said: “The ties between the UK and United States go back a long way and we have significant political, economic and trade connections,” said Phipson. “Relations with the US are vital and its market is the second most important for UK goods. In a post-Brexit world, it is likely to assume ever greater importance as part of our efforts to boost global trade.”
- “As world events have made abundantly clear, strengthening democracy, the free enterprise system and strategic alliances in our countries and around the world is essential to our future and the fight against tyranny,” said Timmons. “As the U.S. and the U.K. take steps to build a stronger, more open and secure economic relationship, the NAM urges our leaders to move toward a new U.S.–U.K. market-opening trade agreement that includes strong, clear and enforceable outcomes.”
Meeting manufacturers: In addition, Timmons met with manufacturers that have operations or pending operations in both the U.K. and the U.S. Energy security and regulatory certainty, as well as the worker shortage in the industry, also took center stage in these discussions.
Bottom line: “The tour’s time in London matters to manufacturers in the United States because it strengthens the ‘special relationship’ between the U.S. and the U.K. and boosts the prospects for enhanced cross-Atlantic trade, supporting manufacturing jobs in both countries,” said Ken Monahan, NAM Vice President of International
Timmons Finishes First Week in Europe
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons concluded week one of the Competing to Win Tour in Europe by visiting a Polish school supported by UPS as well as a Pratt & Whitney facility, where he reflected on the role of manufacturing in protecting democracy.
The school: Timmons visited the elementary school in Lipa, Poland, which has been supported by UPS and served as a safe haven for Ukrainian refugee children at the start of the war.
- During his visit, Timmons discussed the needs of the children and met with the students and teachers in the town, which is near the Ukrainian border.
- He also met with an administrator from a sister school on the Ukrainian side of the border to discuss how the children there are faring.
“Arsenal of Democracy”: In addition, Timmons visited the Pratt & Whitney manufacturing campus in Rzeszów, which employs 5,000 workers and manufactures commercial and defense equipment.
- Timmons not only got a firsthand look at a company that is reinforcing the U.S.–EU commercial relationship, but also learned about the company’s response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, which includes team members providing housing, aid and volunteer hours.
Visiting Auschwitz: Timmons visited the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau on Saturday and saw the horrific evidence of the atrocities committed at the site, where more than 1.1 million people perished.
- Following the visit, he warned against the dangers of authoritarianism and the importance of standing up for democracy and common values of respect and decency. He also noted, as highlighted during the Auschwitz-Birkenau tour, that businesses acquiesced or participated in mechanisms that advanced the aims of the Axis powers.
- Timmons emphasized manufacturing’s power to improve lives and protect freedom for people around the world. However, he also noted the dangers of command-and-control governments dictating the industry’s aims, citing the Holocaust and World War II as examples of how manufacturing can be used as a malevolent force.
The last word: “The American business community has an obligation to stand up for our democratic system and to hold our leaders responsible for their actions—and their rhetoric,” said Timmons.
- “Manufacturers in America, in particular, are a force for good. But we must never let our guard down or take our democracy for granted, no matter how difficult it may be to uphold what is right in the United States and around the world.”
Next up: The tour continues this week, with Timmons visiting high-level government and industry leaders in London, Brussels and Paris.
NAM Tour in Poland: Strengthening Democratic Ties and Supporting Ukraine’s Rebuild
The NAM’s Competing to Win Tour in Europe continued this week with a stop in Poland, where NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons highlighted manufacturers’ support for Ukraine both in his high-level meetings and in media interviews.
Solidarity with Ukraine: At the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Timmons and U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski met to advance manufacturers’ shared solidarity with Ukraine and the importance of strengthening U.S. commercial relationships with Poland and other democratic allies.
- During a meeting with Poland’s Minister of Economic Development and Technology Waldemar Buda, Timmons discussed the direct support and investment by U.S. manufacturers in Poland, which they can use as a base for rebuilding Ukraine after Russia’s defeat.
Humanitarian work: A visit to UPS Poland highlighted the company’s humanitarian work to support refugees from Ukraine.
- UPS has suspended operations in Russia and Belarus and has partnered with several organizations on the ground in Ukraine to provide emergency funding, in-kind support and core relief supplies to refugees.
- UPS has transported and donated millions of meals, winter coats, medical supplies, blankets and other items to aid refugees, while also providing support to its Ukrainian employees and their families.
Interview on “Morning Joe”: Live from Warsaw, Timmons appeared on “Morning Joe,” where he emphasized the power of commerce, and manufacturers, to preserve, protect and expand democracy.
- “[T]he most important thing is to support our allies that believe in democracy. I’m very concerned right now that we have a divide between democracies and authoritarian regimes,” said Timmons. “And American business, I think, can help lead the way to strengthen and support democracy.”
- “I don’t think that there’s any threat quite as grave as what we’re seeing coming out of Russia right now,” he continued. “President Xi, and his visit from China to Moscow, I think really sends a pretty big warning signal for the West.”
- The show covered Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s recent address to the NAM Board of Directors and spotlighted the NAM’s leadership on the world stage—as well as that of individual companies.
Roundtable discussion: Timmons’ last event in Warsaw was a roundtable discussion at AmCham Poland with representatives of manufacturers in the United States that operate in Poland.
- The meeting highlighted the importance of supply chain resilience, energy security and robust, market-opening trade agreements in the work ahead in rebuilding Ukraine, which require a mobilization of capital, industry and governments not seen in Europe since 1945.
- The meeting also covered opportunities for American businesses to support Poland in these efforts and to promote democratic values.
The last word: “Forty years ago this month, President Reagan warned the world not ‘to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire,’” said Timmons. “A [statue of President Reagan] stands across the street from the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw.”
- “As Poland generously absorbs and supports nearly 2 million Ukrainian refugees who have been displaced by Russia’s barbaric and unprovoked war, Reagan’s words are just as important today as they were then.”
Competing to Win Tour Visits Merck KGaA in Darmstadt, Germany, and VDMA in Frankfurt
The NAM’s Competing to Win Tour in Europe continued with stops at Merck KGaA in Darmstadt and VDMA, the association of Germany’s engineering industry, in Frankfurt. The visit to Merck KGaA provided a firsthand look at the leadership, culture and operations that are producing about 300,000 products and that played an instrumental role in saving the world from the pandemic.
Living its values: Merck KGaA and its science and technology entities have 60,000 employees around the globe, with approximately 26,000 employees in 66 countries outside of Germany, including the U.S. Its products appear not only in healthcare settings, but in grocery stores where they ensure food and beverages are safe and in transportation where they monitor the air we breathe.
- Matthias Heinzel, CEO of the Merck KGaA Life Science business, and Thaddeus Burns, head of government and public affairs, welcomed the tour and provided insights into the company’s operations.
- The tour of the Merck Innovation Center showcased the company’s state-of-the-art design and technology, while the visit to the growing Membrane operations gave the tour group an opportunity to explore the latest developments.
- A brief stop in the company’s museum provided a historical perspective on the origins of the company, which was founded by the Merck family and began with a small pharmacy named Angel that is still in business today.
VDMA: The tour group also visited VDMA, the association of Germany’s engineering industry, which represents more than 3,300 companies in the sector and focuses on the advancement of trade opportunities.
The last word: The visit to Merck KGaA in Darmstadt underscored the importance of interconnectedness between the U.S. and Europe. It highlighted the vital role alliances play in strengthening enterprises that are essential to our democratic way of life and its protection worldwide.
- “Merck KGaA is a company that lives its values and is a strong champion of free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity, putting its aspirations into action,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.
A One-Woman Workforce Solution: Meet Toyotetsu’s Leslie Cantu
Leslie Cantu has an unusual but effective method of stress reduction: cuddling with bovines.
“You can’t stay stressed or frustrated when you have a cow licking you on the cheek,” laughed Toyotetsu’s assistant vice president of administration.
Ranch life: Living on a ranch south of San Antonio, Texas, with 13 dogs, 15 cats, five miniature horses, multiple sheep and three newborn lambs might sound to others like a lot of work, but to Cantu, it is indeed a method of decompression.
- “I have five children and two grandbabies, and spending time with them out on the ranch, just being able to take care of the animals and enjoy time with the kids, it’s rewarding, it’s relaxing,” said Cantu.
- Life on the ranch sounds busy, but it’s nothing compared to work life for Cantu, a 2023 Honoree of the Manufacturing Institute’s Women MAKE Awards, which recognize top female talent in the manufacturing industry. She’s involved in a dizzying array of workforce programs both at the company and outside of it.
Finding FAME: Cantu, the first woman to be named an assistant vice president at the global automotive parts manufacturer, spends a lot of time making a difference for the company’s workforce.
- In 2016, her first year on the job, she helped Toyotetsu open the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education’s first Texas chapter, TX FAME – Alamo. Today, she serves as the chapter president.
- “Through FAME, we’ve really been able to build that multiskilled-technician pipeline to make sure we can meet those critical skills needed for our business,” Cantu said of the workforce development initiative for high school graduates, which was founded by Toyota and is now operated by the MI (the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate).
Seeking diversity: Cantu also helped Toyotetsu form a partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission and the local workforce development board to create a 12-week manufacturing apprenticeship program—the first of its kind in Texas—for individuals with disabilities. The inaugural class graduated in January.
- “It’s programs like this and FAME that help us find unique ways to fill those skills gaps and focus on diversifying the workforce,” she said. “There’s a lot to be said for diversifying the workforce, [including] improved morale and retention.”
A second chance: In 2018, in another bid to deepen Toyotetsu’s talent pool, Cantu spearheaded the launch of a second chance hiring initiative in partnership with the local county’s economic development board. The project now consists of seven manufacturers, all of whom regularly hire formerly incarcerated individuals—with great results.
- “Toyotetsu alone has hired about 140 ex-offenders and had tremendous success with that,” said Cantu.
- “Analyzing our data and metrics, we’ve been able to see that our second chance population has better performance and better retention than those who come to us through traditional recruiting. [Second chance] has effectively become a go-to, best practices strategy for us.”
Playing to strengths: Cantu credits some of her success in strengthening Toyotetsu’s workforce to her natural ability to think creatively.
- “As we continue to work through the national skills-force gap, hiring and COVID-19, it’s become important to think outside the box … to see how we could build our talent pipeline,” Cantu said.
- “That’s one of my strengths, tapping into those resources. Part of that is knowing what resources are out there, and thankfully, I’ve got a great boss and corporate office that support community involvement,” she added.
And if that wasn’t enough … Cantu is the chair of Workforce Solutions Alamo, and she sits on the board of the Texas Workforce Commission’s Adult Education & Literacy Advisory Committee and on the advisory board of a local high school.
The last word: Cantu has some encouraging words for women looking to follow in her (very energetic) footsteps:
- “Oftentimes there’s an image of manufacturing [as being] for men, or [that] it’s dark, it’s dirty, it’s dangerous. And that’s not what manufacturing is. There’s a lot of opportunity to use the skills that women bring to the table: multitasking, transferable skills,” she says.
- “It’s incredibly important that we mentor women thinking about careers in manufacturing, tell our stories and share the journey so that we can encourage others following the same path.”
The NAM Tours World’s Largest Chemical Complex
As part of the Competing to Win Tour in Europe, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons visited the world’s largest integrated chemical complex and the headquarters of BASF in Ludwigshafen, Germany, this week. The visit highlighted how BASF is addressing global challenges and providing a powerful example of manufacturers’ leadership.
BASF in North America: BASF employs more than 16,000 workers in North America. Its facilities include large, integrated, production-energy flow-logistics operations in Geismar, Louisiana, and Freeport, Texas.
- Led by BASF North America President and NAM board member Tobias Dratt, the company has been a strong supporter of the initiatives of the Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate, to build the workforce of the future.
- This includes the Creators Wanted campaign, which aims to inspire the next generation of manufacturers and help companies source talent.
- BASF was among the first companies to advance the NAM and MI’s “This Is Our Shot” Project to increase awareness about COVID-19 vaccinations.
The visit: Timmons met with company leaders forging a path to the future.
- These included BASF Global Business Services President Marc Ehrhardt and Chief Technology Officer and Board of Executive Directors member Dr. Melanie Maas-Brunner.
- Timmons also had the opportunity to take part in a BASF immersive experience, one of the company’s innovative approaches to building community awareness about its impact and the promise of the chemistry industry.
The last word: “To fortify the global economy and strengthen the values of free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity—as well as the capacity for democracy to raise standards of living here at home and around the globe—it’s going to take action in the U.S. and Europe,” Timmons said after the visit.
- “Policymakers must continue boosting supply chain resiliency, energy security and regulatory certainty. The decisions that leaders on both sides of the Atlantic make will determine whether companies like BASF can continue to grow, invest and innovate for a better life for all.”
The NAM Talks Democracy, IP and Trade in Geneva
On the first two days of the NAM’s Competing to Win Tour in Europe, Timmons took part in “frank and engaging” discussions with global leaders in Geneva. The conversations focused on reinforcing transatlantic partnerships, bolstering democracy, addressing trade challenges and emphasizing the crucial role manufacturers play in promoting global stability.
The details: Timmons met with influential figures including WTO Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Deputy Director General Angela Ellard, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein Scott Miller and U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Geneva David Bisbee.
- NAM representatives also participated in an event on intellectual property co-hosted by the NAM and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.
The substance: In the meetings, Timmons delved into the negative impact of the WTO/TRIPS waiver expansion, the need to restore the WTO dispute settlement system’s functionality and the crucial role of manufacturers in supporting democracies and global institutions.
- ‘“Frank & engaging discussion w/ @JayTimmonsNAM CEO of the US National Association of Manufacturers & his delegation. Focused on geopolitical tensions & impact of @wto, challenges w/ the TRIPS waiver extension to therapeutics & diagnostics, dispute settlement system & road to #MC13 [the WTO’s next ministerial conference in early 2024],” tweeted Okonjo-Iweala following the meeting.
Speech in brief: At the IFPMA event, first covered by Politico, Timmons stressed the significance of IP protections in driving innovation and developing new treatments, reinforcing the NAM’s opposition to an expansion of the TRIPS waiver to cover diagnostics and therapeutics. Attendees included Geneva-based government delegations, the WTO secretariat and NAM member companies.
- “In America, our industry works to advance the values of free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity—the values that keep our industry strong,” said Timmons. “But increasingly, we find these values, which so many of us share, under attack—in particular from authoritarian regimes that have little regard for free markets and little respect for an individual’s right to determine their own destiny. That’s why our transatlantic relationship matters more than at any time in recent memory.”
- “[O]ne of the most important ingredients for innovation is how a country protects intellectual property. IP enshrines the understanding that years or even decades of hard work and sleepless nights, millions and millions of dollars and so much more will be rewarded,” he continued.
- “Expanding this [WTO/TRIPS waiver of IP] would set a precedent that would spiral across the manufacturing sector,” he concluded. “Some voices—here in Geneva and around the world—are already expressing desires to implement similar waivers for renewable and green energy technologies, or to automatically trigger an IP waiver for any future pandemic. If we don’t draw the line now, the outcome is obvious: an anti-innovation domino effect that destroys jobs, livelihoods and lifechanging products.”
The big picture: More than a worldwide center for diplomacy, Switzerland is the seventh largest investor in the U.S. Timmons’s visit comes at a critical inflection point for the country and amid heightened stresses on global institutions, due to COVID-19, Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine and competition with China, among other geopolitical challenges.
News coverage: Politico’s Morning Trade newsletter spotlighted Timmons’s trip, while The Wall Street Journal (subscription) quoted him on the importance of new U.S. trade agreements.
Next up: The tour will continue in Frankfurt, Germany, where the NAM will further demonstrate manufacturers’ leadership and the potential for a more robust transatlantic alliance.
Senators Reintroduce Crucial R&D Bill
A bipartisan Senate duo introduced legislation on Thursday that would both allow businesses to once again fully deduct R&D expenses in the year they are made and expand the refundable R&D tax credit.
What’s going on: The American Innovation and Jobs Act, sponsored by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN), would restore the immediate deductibility of R&D expenses. Last year, a tax change went into effect requiring companies to amortize or deduct their R&D investments over a period of years, making R&D more costly.
Why it’s important: According to a recent NAM analysis, the sector would lose nearly 60,000 jobs and face an output decline of more than $31 billion this year alone if the change is not reversed.
- The U.S. has now become a global outlier, joining Belgium as the only other developed country requiring the amortization of R&D expenses.
- Meanwhile, China provides a 200% “super deduction”—20 times the amount allowed in the U.S. tax code—for its manufacturers’ research.
The NAM says: “Manufacturers applaud the introduction of the American Innovation and Jobs Act, which will help the U.S. out-compete China,” said NAM Managing Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram.
- “Across the country, manufacturers are hiring workers, investing in communities and creating the products, materials and processes that drive us forward. Congress should approve the American Innovation and Jobs Act quickly to support critical research that allows manufacturers to improve lives in America and for people around the world.”
Learn more: Read our stories on how the 2022 expensing requirement is impacting International Paper, Marlin Steel Wire Products, Ultragenyx, Miltec UV and Brewer Science (whose story was also covered today by The Wall Street Journal, subscription).