Improvements to U.S. trade policy must focus on economic growthBy Alex Russ, AEM Director, International and Regulatory Affairs

It’s a new era for U.S. trade policy in 2017, with the new Trump administration and a new Congress taking its place in Washington.

AEM is well-positioned to work with President-elect Trump’s team to identify barriers to increased U.S. exports and unfair trade practices that undermine the U.S. manufacturing base. Real opportunities exist to work with the Trump administration on increasing access to foreign markets for equipment manufacturers through trade agreements, export financing and U.S. trade enforcement.

But equipment manufacturers should also be careful to study provisions related to taxes and domestic production that could have broad ramifications next year.

On tax reform, GOP leaders are examining reforms that would assess fees on materials that are imported to the United States and allow for full, immediate business expensing. While the proposal is still under development, manufacturers should study this so-called “border adjustability” to account for how they manage their supply chains and whether such a proposal could be problematic if determined to be noncompliant with the United States’ WTO commitments.

Democrats and some Republicans have also begun voicing support for so-called “Buy American” provisions, which impose sometimes-arcane requirements on how much of a product must be made up of U.S.-made components. These rules threaten to raise costs significantly for manufacturers who source parts and materials internationally.

This past year, AEM visited member companies and their employees throughout the United States to see how trade directly benefits their communities. Whether it was a piece of machinery being built in rural Minnesota destined for Chile, or a foreign-owned company hiring American workers for a new facility in Georgia, trade expands economic growth and opportunity for our entire country.

As the new Administration and Congress get set for the coming year, it’s important they work with regulated industries to examine public policies helping to spur economic growth. Unintentionally disrupting global supply chains must be avoided when seeking to improve U.S. trade policy. Navigating the complexity of global commerce and communicating desired outcomes will be key to enacting an ambitious trade agenda.

AEM looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and Congress to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and welcomes any opportunity to contribute to a successful U.S. trade agenda.

To learn more or to get involved with AEM’s trade policy efforts, please contact me at aruss@aem.org or call AEM's Washington, D.C., office at 202-898-9064. 

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