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As the White House, government officials and businesses prepare for next week’s Washington visit of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Muhammad bin Salman, manufacturers across America are calling upon the Saudi government to address a range of outstanding issues that are frustrating manufacturers seeking to export and grow in that market, activities that support good, high-paying jobs here at home.

The United States is Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trading partner, with nearly $35 billion in trade in 2016. In turn, Saudi Arabia is one of the United States’ largest and most important trading partners in the Middle East and the destination for more than $10 billion in investment across a range of business sectors.

Yet manufacturers are urging the Administration and others to raise outstanding commercial issues they face in Saudi Arabia that undermine that partnership and send the wrong signals about Saudi Arabia’s investment environment. Recent decisions by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority to promote local pharmaceutical manufacturing at the expense of U.S. products, for example, undermine Saudi Arabia’s attempts to promote innovation and transform its economy and raise questions about their compliance with both Saudi law and Saudi Arabia’s obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) – questions that are important to a broad range of manufacturers, not just impacted industries.

Manufacturers also face other challenges in Saudi Arabia that directly impact manufacturing exports, such as problematic technical rules in areas from food to product testing as well as revised Saudi regulations that effectively exclude many international standards developed in the United States.

Removing these barriers and re-committing to a pro-business, pro-innovation investment environment must be a priority for these discussions. Manufacturers urge the Crown Prince and other members of his delegation to work within senior levels of their government to address these concerns and avoid similar steps in the future. These steps are an important part of affirming Saudi Arabia’s continued partnership with the United States.

The post Innovation, Investment – Not Market Access Barriers – Must Be Pillars for U.S.-Saudi Relationship appeared first on Shopfloor.

Manufacturers across the country continue to enjoy record-high optimism and are expanding at an exciting clip. Both the New York Federal Reserve and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve are reporting continued healthy gains in manufacturing activity in March. Tax reform and other pro-growth policies coming from Washington are helping manufacturers invest and expand in their facilities and their workers.

The latest news? United Tool and Mold, Inc. a South Carolina-based plastic tooling manufacturer, announced that it is planning an $11.1 million expansion to build a new “state-of-the-art” production complex in South Carolina:

United Tool and Mold, Inc., a leading provider of new tooling projects, engineering changes and repair services for the plastics industry, will invest $11.1 million to expand its manufacturing operations in the Pickens County Commerce Park in South Carolina. The company will construct a 60,000 square foot, state-of-the-art production complex.

The company has three locations across the Southeast, including operations in Duncan and Easley, South Carolina. The Easley facility features the company’s main office and is a comprehensive provider of mold-servicing needs.

“This investment in a state-of-the-art facility and leading-edge technology will ensure that our highly skilled employees, many of whom call Pickens County home, will be able to live local and work local,” United Tool and Mold President H. Scott Phipps said.

The company currently employs 80 workers in the U.S. The expansion is expected to create 17 additional jobs.

The post United Tool and Mold Investing $11M To Construct 60,000 SqFt Manufacturing Complex In South Carolina appeared first on Shopfloor.

Though many don’t know it, Americans pay both directly or indirectly about $1 million a day in government-imposed import taxes on products not made or available in the United States, including everyday items like swim goggles, smartphone cases and pepperoncini. Why? It’s a long story, but it essentially comes down to the fact that the United States has a very old tariff code and it has been nearly a decade since Congress has gotten around to addressing these unfair, out-of-date, distortive and anticompetitive taxes by passing the so-called Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB). Thankfully the U.S. House of Representatives passed an MTB bill, the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018, on January 16 by a margin of 402 to 0. Now, it is the turn of the Senate to approve the legislation. It must do so without delay.

Here’s some important background on the issue.

Back in 2016, Congress took a major step toward modernizing the way products are considered under the MTB with its near unanimous passage of the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 (AMCA). The AMCA established a regularized process for Congress to consider the elimination of individual import taxes for products not made or available in the United States—and a few key elements from that rigorous and thorough process follow below:

  • Detailed petition. Each request for tariff suspension required a detailed petition, identifying the product and providing information that it is not produced or available in sufficient quantities in the United States. A total of 2,524 petitions were filed and reviewed in this process. (An additional 638 petitions were filed but later withdrawn.) 
  • Public review, with comments. All petitions were posted online and comments were requested from the public, at the start of the process, on whether the petition met statutory requirements under the AMCA, including that there were no objections from domestic manufacturers of similar products. More than 800 comments were submitted on the petitions filed in 2017. 
  • Review of all petitions for eligibility. Each of the petitions was reviewed by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) with input from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Customs Bureau Protection (CBP) and other executive branch agencies to determine if each petition met all the eligibility criteria. Several reports were released to the public summarizing these findings. Overall, more than 27 percent (or 697 petitions) were rejected as not eligible, including for reasons of domestic availability, as discussed below. 
  • Broad U.S. government review of domestic production and availability. As required by the statute, the U.S. government review did not just look at identical products, but also products that were “directly competitive” with the product to ensure that no domestic industry was producing a similar product that might prefer to keep the tariff in place. U.S. government officials reviewed not only the comments received but proactively reached out to industry sectoral groups and individual businesses to ask if the same or competing product was available domestically. Nearly 500 petitions, or nearly 20 percent of the total, were not recommended by the ITC for inclusion in MTB legislation due to objections by domestic producers.

After all that work and more than nine months of engagement with stakeholders, a final package of eligible products was sent in August to the House and Senate, which also reviewed the products (with the ability only to strike products, not add them to the package). That rigorous process has produced a final MTB with nearly 1,700 products eligible for tariff elimination or reductions. Notably, such tariff relief is not permanent, as it only lasts for three years in case there are domestic manufacturers that want to produce any of these products and might prefer the application of the tariff. These products include both inputs used by many manufacturers throughout the United States (more than 75 percent of the products are inputs, according to an analysis by the NAM), and some final goods that will directly benefit consumers and purchasers, in a manner that is fully consistent with the AMCA.

  • As one example, certain U.S. imports of performance footwear face tariffs ranging from 20 to 37.5 percent, which add unnecessary costs to U.S. consumers and harm our manufacturers and workers. Such imported performance footwear products incorporate made-in-America components, such as the GORE-TEX® laminate that is manufactured in Cecil County, Maryland. GORE-TEX® laminate is exported, incorporated into performance footwear, and ultimately returns to the United States. Tariff relief for such footwear products, which are included in the MTB package, would support American jobs and incentivize continued investments in technology such as GORE-TEX® 
  • As another example, Lasko Products LLC is the only U.S. manufacturer of electric pedestal and desktop fans sold at retailers across the United States, but Lasko pays import taxes on fan motors not manufactured in the United States, making it more difficult for the company to compete with fans imported from China. These fan motors are also included in the current MTB package.

As required by international trade rules, these tariff suspensions also apply to all goods entering the United States from all countries. To do otherwise would invite retaliation and higher costs or barriers for U.S. manufacturers exporting overseas.

So, a lot of hard work has gone into addressing this issue, but we are not yet past the finish line. The NAM and manufacturers and other businesses across the United States are doubling-down to urge final congressional passage of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018 as soon as possible so we can eliminate unnecessary taxes on families and manufacturers. Based on analyses by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018, would eliminate unnecessary import tariffs of more than $1.1 billion over three years, helping both consumers and manufacturers, with an estimated boost to U.S. manufacturing output of $3.1 billion.

The House already acted last month and it passed this bill without a single vote in opposition. We are now urging the Senate to demonstrate its strong bipartisan support for the MTB by moving quickly to approve this important legislation.

The post Little Understood Government Process Could – if Congress Acts – Provide Tax Cuts for Individuals and Manufacturers appeared first on Shopfloor.

In another major win for manufacturers in Tennessee, Martin Technologies, an engineering and manufacturing company, has announced that it plans to hire 250 new workers for a new 60,000-square-foot facility in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee:

He expects the number to drop even lower with Tuesday’s announcement that Martin Technologies will be moving to Lawrenceburg with plans to hire 250-plus employees.

“This is a big deal for this city, this county and this region,” Mayor Keith Durham said.

Martin Technologies, a privately held company, will be moving into a 60,000-square-foot facility at 100 Hannon Drive that was formerly a portion of the old Murray of Ohio facility.

Martin Technologies isn’t the only manufacturer investing in Tennessee. Last week, DENSO announced that the company plans to invest $190 million in one of its Tennessee manufacturing facilities. La-Z-Boy is investing $31 million to expand its facility in New Tazewell.

The post Martin Technologies Opening 60,000 SqFt Facility In Tennessee, Creating 250 New Manufacturing Jobs appeared first on Shopfloor.

For over a decade, the National Association of Manufacturers has supported efforts to increase small businesses’ health insurance options through what are known as Association Health Plans, or AHPs, and today we officially filed comments with the Department of Labor that again underline that support. What’s an AHP? At its core, an AHP essentially enables associations and groups to band together to provide health insurance to member employers and employees. Given the increased purchasing power and wider insurance pool that comes from banding together, AHPs often offer the potential of better care and lower costs. It’s a great idea for small businesses and employees alike and, thanks to a wide-ranging executive order President Trump signed in October promoting more choice and competition in the health care market, small businesses and their employees may soon be able to take advantage of them.

Manufacturers have a proud tradition of providing health care to employees—in fact nearly 100% of our member companies do so—which is why the NAM is eager to advance additional market-based policy changes that can expand coverage even further while reducing health care costs at the same time. AHPs offer an important pathway to get there and we believe it is time to make this health care option more widely available to smaller manufacturers and their employees. We appreciate all of the efforts of President Trump, his Labor Department, and Congress in moving us one step closer to making that vision a reality. We will continue to be a partner along the way, so more manufacturing employees can thrive, be healthy and share in their sector’s success.

The post Association Health Plans: Expanding Health Coverage, Reducing Health Costs appeared first on Shopfloor.

The Constitutional rights to free speech and free association are bedrock American values and empower manufacturers to fight for policies that will make America more competitive and improve the lives of manufacturing workers.

The Supreme Court has upheld these rights, ruling that manufacturers and others are free to advocate through voluntary association and to do so anonymously, so as to be free from retaliation from those who might disagree with their views.

Nevertheless, political opponents and activists have long tried to undermine these rights. And recently, those attacks have gained some traction through recent efforts of state attorneys general in California and New York. The attorneys general have attempted to identity donors to nonprofit organizations through a portion of tax filings currently only available to the IRS.

The Internal Revenue Code requires that nonprofit organizations report the name and contribution amount of any donor who gives $5,000 or more. They report this on Schedule B of their tax returns, but under current law, only the IRS may see the full content of Schedule B in order to protect donors from retaliation.

In a recent disturbing development, though, a federal appeals court in New York has ruled that the New York Attorney General may have access to the donor lists of certain nonprofits and that such disclosure does not chill the First Amendment rights of donors. This holding is in direct contravention of U.S. Supreme Court precedent and will likely be appealed there.

Unfortunately, even the collection of donor information can create a chilling effect on speech, especially when the IRS has demonstrated a willingness to politicize non-profit filings. In 2014, the IRS paid $50,000 to settle a case in which it leaked a non-profit’s unredacted donor list to the press. And subsequently, IRS officials have even argued that collecting donor information is unnecessary. In 2015, then-IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Senate Judiciary Committee that “who gives to you should not matter.”

Indeed, the value of these disclosures is so limited that when one nonprofit refused to submit Schedule B forms to California’s Attorney General, the organization’s noncompliance went unnoticed for more than 10 years. In a subsequent court case including trial testimony about state and federal use of Schedule B forms, the court ruled that “the only logical explanation for why … ‘lack of compliance’ went unnoticed for over a decade is that the Attorney General does not use the Schedule B in its day-to-day business.”

A new bill introduced by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)—the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act (H.R. 4916)—would help put an end to this legal wrangling and ensure Americans can express their views without fear of political retribution. Specifically, the bill would prohibit the IRS from collecting information on donors to tax-exempt organizations.

The NAM believes our nation remains strong when job creators, like all Americans, exercise their Constitutional rights and speak out about public policies that impact growth and U.S. job creation. We hope that Congress considers the importance of free speech when debating the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act.

The post Manufacturers’ Rights to Free Speech and Free Association Must be Protected and Reinforced appeared first on Shopfloor.