AEM Wants Action Now to Spur Economic Growth

While the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) supports President Obama’s renewed focus on U.S. exports, the off-road machinery manufacturing trade group urges the Administration to take necessary steps now that will truly help American manufacturers boost global trade. Actions include passage of long-pending free trade agreements (FTAs), enacting tax policies that enhance American competitiveness in world markets, and eliminating unnecessary visa delays for qualified customers.

“The federal government is taking steps in the right direction, but they are not enough. With the torpid economy and continued high rate of unemployment, we need immediate action on FTAs, tax issues and visa delays,” stated AEM President Dennis Slater.

“Our industry has traditionally been export-intensive and we can’t afford to have global business taken away by other countries more supportive of their manufacturing sectors,” he added. Slater noted that makers of construction, agricultural and related equipment have been especially hard hit in this recession and are battling back from business losses in the 40- to 60-percent range and unemployment that was double the national average.

Free Trade Agreements – The U.S. has pending free trade agreements (FTA) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that would help open overseas markets to U.S. exporters and investors. “These free trade agreements currently on the President’s desk have been languishing for three to three and a half years, while countries around the globe are negotiating dozens of FTAs to boost trade with other non-U.S. countries.”

Visa Delays for Qualified Customers – AEM is actively engaged with Administration trade officials to revamp burdensome U.S. visa policies which deter qualified international buyers from entering the U.S. to conduct business. AEM is a trade show producer and owner and says that unnecessarily long waiting periods and unexplained visa denials have restricted international attendance at expositions such as CONEXPO-CON/AGG. For example, it is estimated that wait times for a required visa interview in Beijing, China can run up to 100 days.

“These are established business people and potential customers for U.S.-made products, and many just give up and attend non-U.S. shows,” stated Slater. “However, while U.S. visa policy is still a burden for our international visitors, I am optimistic that the Administration understands the importance of bringing customers stateside as an important step in meeting its stated objective of doubling exports within five years.”

Tax Policies to Spur Growth – A goal of tax legislation should be to improve U.S. economic growth and competitiveness and simplify the tax system as much as is possible, notes AEM. Corporate tax policies that AEM supports include adjusting the corporate tax rate to the levels of other industrialized countries, preserving the LIFO accounting method, making permanent the five-year depreciation schedule for agriculture equipment, permanently repealing the estate tax, and making permanent the R&D tax credit plus expanding it to cover Tier 4-related R&D expenses.

In other export-related issues, AEM supports the Administration’s efforts to more effectively enforce intellectual property laws and regulations (IP). Congress has created the first-ever Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, which recently announced a new strategic plan on IP enforcement. AEM also supports passage of the Export Promotion Act recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. This bill seeks to help small and medium-size companies (SMEs) promote their products internationally and includes an emphasis on rural businesses. AEM continues to work with the federal government through a special Export-Import Bank pilot program that makes it easier for SMEs to navigate the loan application process to obtain short-term single-buyer export credit insurance.

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