AEM: Industy needs export-friendly policies

Fostering a competitive trade environment to boost the American economy and create jobs was the subject of a May 14 invitation-only briefing and roundtable discussion with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk attended by Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) representatives. AEM President Dennis Slater and AEM Senior Vice President Al Cervero participated along with several Wisconsin member companies. The event was held in Milwaukee at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“It is essential to create a healthy business environment here in the U.S. where manufacturers can be encouraged to pursue exports and create jobs. We need sound policies so U.S. manufacturers can remain competitive in the increasingly growing global marketplace,” Slater stated.

Slater applauded the potential of the new National Export Initiative to help revive the U.S. economy, create and preserve jobs in the United States, and strengthen America’s competitiveness.

“Exports have been a buoy for the construction equipment industry as U.S. business has plummeted and industry unemployment has been double the national average,” Slater said. “And, in 2009, due to reliance on exports, the value of exported agricultural machinery and industrial equipment from the U.S. was at approximately 30% of U.S. production.”

Slater also cited data from the Institute for International Economics showing that export business helps U.S. companies not only grow faster, but they are also nearly 8.5 percent less likely to go out of business than non-exporting companies.

An immediate step to expand exports is Congressional approval of pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Panama, Colombia and South Korea, according to Slater, who also relayed these comments in a letter to the President.

China and European countries are moving ahead on agreements with the three countries, and “we don’t want our U.S. manufacturers to get shut out of the market because we acted too late,” Slater stated.

The benefits of liberalized trade are apparent from our past trade agreements, noted Slater. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and World Trade organization (WTO) agreements are estimated to have increased U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $40 billion to $60 billion a year.

AEM outlined other action, in addition to FTA passage, which would encourage investment and remove barriers to global competition:

  • Timely enactment of a multi-year surface transportation bill to improve America’s deteriorating roads, bridges and ports, so manufacturers can receive materials and ship their products more efficiently and less expensively.
  • <Corporate tax reform to encourage exports and help companies compete globally and build products here in the U.S.
  • Visa-application procedural changes to encourage and facilitate travel for business applicants by reducing extreme delays and high visa denials that disproportionately harm the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers. “American manufacturers are losing customers because in many instances, these international buyers become frustrated and then purchase equivalent machinery from European, Japanese or other non-U.S. machinery manufacturers,” Slater said.

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