This five-part series by the Council on Competitiveness calls for a new era of production excellence in America. Check back throughout the week for more strategies for American manufacturing excellence.

Part 1: Innovation

Part 2: Expansion (you are here)

Part 3: Talent

Part 4: Productivity

Part 5: Competition

The Council on Competitiveness’s Make: An American Manufacturing report issues a call to keep manufacturing a cornerstone of American independence, economic prosperity, and national security. This series was recently presented to the government as a non-partisan strategy to resolve issues facing American manufacturing, which remains a driver of innovation and job creation, even as automa­tion and technology make manufacturing more effi­cient. A new era of manufacturing excellence offers hope for good jobs, new innovations, and a higher standard of living. America would benefit from faster economic growth, a more secure industrial and defense base, and an ability to produce solutions to national challenges in energy, health, environment, and the economy.

Americans have lost production of cutting-edge innovations developed in America because of tax, regulatory, skill, finance, and infrastructure limitations that make production elsewhere more competitive. Americans have always been pioneers, risk-takers, and makers. The Council’s task is to set those impulses free and embrace production. Americans have proven adept at rising to the economic challenge of their time. Such a time is now for manufacturing—and Americans can set in place the policies to ignite a new era of competitive and sustainable manufacturing.

CHALLENGE: Expand U.S. exports, reduce the trade deficit, increase market access, and respond to foreign governments protecting domestic producers. 
SOLUTION: Utilize multilateral fora, forge new agreements, advance IP protection, and export control regimes to grow high-value investment and increase exports.

Recommendation: Congress, the administration, and industry should intensify efforts to support the President’s goal to double exports from $1.8 to $3.6 trillion and reduce the trade deficit by more than 50 percent.

  • Launch trade liberalization negotiations with Brazil, China, India, the EU, Japan, and Trans Pacific Partnership Countries—Australia*, Brunei Darussalam, Chile*, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam. (*already in place)
  • Begin negotiations to deepen and broaden the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  • Increase use of anti-dumping measures and countervailing duties to provide relief from unfairly priced or subsidized imports.
  • Encourage China, Russia, India, Vietnam, and others to upgrade the existing 1996 Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).
  • Increase intellectual property protection through the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Priority countries include China, India, Russia, and Brazil.

Recommendation: Industry CEOs and government leaders should elevate and advance U.S. technical standards and the voluntary consensus standards-setting process.

  • Reinforce the principles laid down in the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement.
  • Encourage industry-led standards for interoperable manufacturing and logistics systems.
  • Develop technical standards for emerging technologies and promote global technological collaboration.

Recommendation: Congress and the administration should ensure the President’s Export Control Reform Initiative is completed by the end of 2012 and push for improved foreign export control systems.

  • Implement a U.S. export control regime with a single streamlined control list, a primary enforcement agency, a single licensing agency, and a unified information technology system. The new regime should also enable foreign doctoral-candidate researchers to participate in a wider scope of defense-related projects where their participation would not pose a national security risk.
  • Renew efforts to negotiate and enforce enhanced rules on foreign government export restrictions that are currently being used by other countries to manipulate and distort markets.

Recommendation: Focus on actions to encourage China to make permanent the special intellectual property rights campaign it ran from October 2010 to June 2011.

  • Create a senior directorship in the Chinese Ministry of Commerce with adequate staff and funding. The directory should be driven by metrics to reduce counterfeiting and required report progress regularly and publicly.