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Secretary of Commerce Unveils U.S. Manufacturing Strategy; Names Interim Point Person for Mfg.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, using the backdrop of Lincoln Electric Co., Euclid, OH, and flanked by scores of Lincoln employees, industry representatives and elected officials, unveiled the Bush administration’s manufacturing report this past Friday. Manufacturing in America—A Comprehensive Strategy to Address the Challenges to U.S. Manufacturers is based on input from more than 20 roundtables the department conducted with American manufacturers over the past six months. In discussing the strategy, Evans focused on the need for a level worldwide playing field for U.S. manufacturers, and the need for a full-time government position focused solely on manufacturing advocacy as well as policy creation and implementation. At a roundtable with industry officials prior to his speech, Evans announced that Under Secretary for the International Trade Administration Grant Aldonas would serve in an interim capacity as point person for manufacturers until Congress passes the legislation to create and fund the position of Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing and Services. “This is our strategy to remove the barriers that are holding back American manufacturers and costing jobs,” said Evans. “This report is a single step in an ongoing process: ensuring that American companies are competitive in every part of the world.” The strategy carries six main themes: 1. Creating the conditions for economic growth and manufacturing investment. This includes making recent tax cuts permanent; simplifying the tax system while reducing the cost of compliance; making the research and experimentation tax credit permanent; and expanding access to lower-cost capital. 2. Lowering the cost of manufacturing in the United States. This aspect focuses on review and reform of existing regulations; lower health-care costs; tort reform; and new energy legislation designed to increase energy reliability and affordability. 3. Investing in innovation. Key points here include strengthening the patent system to enhance intellectual-property protection; reviewing manufacturing-related federal R&D programs to ensure an appropriate focus on innovation and productivity enhancement; supporting a manufacturing extension partnership; promoting manufacturing technology transfer; and exploring the unique capabilities of national laboratories and universities. 4. Strengthening education, retraining and economic diversification. This would include establishing a high-school and technical-education partnership initiative; assessing the training needed to succeed in manufacturing in the future; establishing personal re-employment accounts; coordinating the efforts of federal agencies in addressing challenges faced by manufacturing-dependant communities; and transforming workforce-development programs. 5. Promoting open markets and a level playing field. This aspect of the plan seeks to encourage the adoption of growth-oriented economic policies, the integration of financial markets and the phase out of government subsidies and other market-distorting practices; pursue trade agreements that benefit U.S. manufacturers; enforce trade agreements and combat unfair trade practices; and promote the sale of U.S.-manufactured products in global markets. 6. Enhancing government’s focus on manufacturing competitiveness. This invloves establishing a President’s Manufacturing Council; creating an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for manufacturing and Services; forming an Office of Industry Analysis; and fostering coordination between federal, state and local governments. Manufacturing in America—A Comprehensive Strategy to Address the Challenges to U.S. Manufacturers, both the full report and synopsis, are available at the Department of Commerce website, www.commerce.gov.
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