While Americans have largely focused in recent months on the recovery and renewal of our domestic economy, manufacturers also recognize the critical importance of global markets for their success. That makes trade agreements incredibly important—and underscores the urgency of renewing Trade Promotion Authority, a current focus of the NAM.
We recently spoke to NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Ken Monahan about this essential issue.
What it is: Trade Promotion Authority is a legislative framework between Congress and the executive branch that details the priorities and consultative process for U.S. trade negotiations. Essentially, said Monahan, Congress lays out its trade negotiation objectives and oversight obligations in TPA legislation, and in exchange, the president is able to negotiate trade agreements that will ultimately receive an up or down vote in Congress.
Why it matters: TPA can help ensure that new trade deals will reflect the priorities of manufacturers in the United States, said Monahan. With 95% of consumers living outside U.S. borders, and with more than 6 million U.S. manufacturing jobs depending on exports, trade agreements are needed to give manufacturers access to other markets on the right terms.
- “From a business perspective, having a TPA that reflects the priorities of manufacturers on the front end is vitally important,” said Monahan. “We are urging the Biden administration to prioritize a robust trade agenda that will open markets with countries with which we don’t already have agreements.”
- “We’re rightly focused on the domestic market, including through our support for the infrastructure package moving through Congress, but manufacturers also need to be able to compete overseas and access markets around the world.”
Where we are: To date, the Biden administration hasn’t detailed a strategy for the negotiation of new trade agreements. TPA was last passed by Congress in 2015, but that authority expired at the end of June.
What manufacturers want: Last year, the NAM laid out manufacturers’ priorities for trade agreements in comments submitted to the U.S. International Trade Commission. “In broad strokes, manufacturers want four things with respect to trade agreements,” said Monahan.
- “First, reverse unfair trade barriers that impede our ability to export.”
- “Second, protect intellectual property through technology leadership and innovation.”
- “Third, raise global standards to ensure a level playing field and ensure that other countries have standards that are consistent with ours.”
- “And fourth, codify respect for the rule of law and the pivotal role of free markets around the world.”
What the NAM is doing: The NAM has been leading the charge on TPA, ramping up engagements in recent weeks with members of Congress and the Biden administration. Most recently, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons called on President Biden to work with Congress without delay to renew TPA.
The last word: “The United States needs to be back in the game,” said Monahan. “Our trading partners are negotiating agreements among themselves that are excluding the United States. Manufacturers need to access new markets. We need more exports that support good-paying jobs. And in order to accomplish that, we need to get off the sidelines and negotiate new trade agreements that will support growth here at home by reducing barriers faced by manufacturers around the world.”
Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the midterm elections, the National Association of Manufacturers released its policy roadmap, “Competing to Win,” a comprehensive blueprint featuring immediate solutions for bolstering manufacturers’ competitiveness. It is also a roadmap for policymakers on the laws and regulations needed to strengthen the manufacturing industry in the months and years ahead.
With the country facing rising prices, snarled supply chains and geopolitical turmoil, manufacturers are outlining an actionable competitiveness agenda that Americans across the political spectrum can support. “Competing to Win” includes the policies manufacturers in America will need in place to continue driving the country forward.
“‘Competing to Win’ offers a path for bringing our country together around policies, shared values and a unified purpose,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “The NAM is putting forward a plan filled with ideas that policymakers could pursue immediately, including solutions to urgent problems, such as energy security, immigration reform, supply chain disruptions, the ongoing workforce shortage and more. Manufacturers have shown incredible resilience through difficult times, employing more workers now than before the pandemic, but continued resilience is not guaranteed without the policies that are critical to the state of manufacturing in America.”
The NAM and its members will leverage “Competing to Win” to shape policy debates ahead of the midterm elections, in the remainder of the 117th Congress and at the start of the 118th Congress—including in direct engagement with lawmakers, for grassroots activity, across traditional and digital media and through events in key states and districts as we did following the initial rollout of the roadmap in 2016.
The document focuses on 12 areas of action, and all policies are rooted in the values that have made America exceptional and keep manufacturing strong: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.
Learn more about how manufacturers are leading and about the industry’s competitiveness agenda at nam.org/competing-to-win.
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org