As the manufacturing industry grapples with disruptive forces in the U.S. and around the world, companies are looking for more certainty and opportunity.
NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Ken Monahan spoke about these issues with UPS President of International Public Affairs Penelope Naas in a panel discussion during the UPS Supply Chain Solutions virtual conference on Oct. 5.
The big idea: “Manufacturers of all sizes must be able to compete in a global economy by selling not just to consumers in the U.S., but also to billions of consumers globally,” said Monahan.
- “For us, international economic growth is core to our DNA—and it is absolutely critical that we increase opportunities for those 95% of the global population that lives outside of the U.S.”
- The NAM emphasized these broad priorities in its just-released “Competing to Win” policy agenda.
The challenge: “We’ve just seen wave after wave of supply chain disruptions, and the impact that that’s happening on the ability of manufacturers to operate and engage not just in the U.S. but globally,” said Monahan. “In a recent quarterly survey [of NAM members], 78% of our leaders listed supply chain instructions as a primary business challenge.”
- According to Monahan, the global nature of manufacturing underscores “the importance of our industry working to ease the types of global supply chain bottlenecks that are impacting so many businesses around the world … easing uncertainty and … knocking down unfair trade barriers that continue to stymie the growth of economic activity globally.”
Problems and solutions: Monahan named COVID-19, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and disclosure requirements that require more scrutiny of supply chains as key factors impacting manufacturers—and emphasized the need for diverse sources of products to ensure supply chain resiliency in the future.
Building partnerships: Monahan pointed to the importance of robust trade agreements and partnerships with economic allies to secure resilient supply chains and promote fair competition.
- “When it comes to trade, we need to think through ways in which we can deepen our partnerships with our friends and allies,” said Monahan. That means “seeking trade agreements and cutting-edge, best-in-class frameworks with our trading partners to encourage increasing standards to U.S. levels.”
Monahan also noted a series of ongoing U.S. efforts with global trading partners, including in the Indo-Pacific region, Europe, the Americas and Kenya. He made clear that the NAM is working to promote new agreements that open markets, strengthen U.S. innovation and technology standards and increase global standards around trade rules, among other priorities.
- Such U.S. global engagement is “demonstrating to manufacturers that the U.S. is back on the field,” said Monahan. “But at every opportunity, we are pushing the administration to think bigger, be even more ambitious and take this opportunity in front of it.”
Promoting transparency: Monahan spoke about the importance of manufacturers’ insight into their supply chains.
- “Companies need to be knowledgeable about as many tiers of their supply chains as possible and have strong due diligence and compliance programs in place to ensure to the maximum extent possible that goods are not being sourced or sold to entities that use forced labor or are on various export control lists,” he said.
The last word: “We need to be able to really put forward and advance the same principles globally that we do here at home as manufacturers: nondiscrimination, fairness, equal opportunity and competition,” said Monahan. “We are at our best when we are advancing those priorities globally and in the U.S.”