Remarks by Ambassador Michael Froman at Zentech Manufacturing for National Manufacturing Day
October 3, 2014
“Thank you, Matt [Turpin]. It’s great to visit Zentech. This company represents just the latest generation of innovative businesses here in Baltimore. And I’m delighted to be here to recognize National Manufacturing Day.
“You see, there’s a long tradition in Baltimore of manufacturing things, making them quickly, making them affordably, and not compromising on quality. That’s the essence of competition, and for well over 200 years, Baltimore businesses and workers have not only been competing, they’ve been winning.
“Baltimore has been the home of the first typesetting machine,
“the first electric refrigerator,
“the first American umbrella factory,
“the first disposable bottle cap,
“the first American silverware company,
“the first modern radar, and the list goes on and on.
“The point is, Baltimore has been innovating for ages. And as the home to one of America’s most important ports, Baltimore has been a major hub for selling many of those things to customers around the world. Today, the Port of Baltimore is America’s top port for handling autos and trucks, farm and construction machinery, and a number of other products.
“Business at the Port of Baltimore generates 15,000 direct jobs, while over 100,000 jobs in Maryland are linked to port activities. And during the past four years, exports through the Port of Baltimore’s have jumped 95 percent. They’ve almost doubled.
“So much has happened in this city that you’ve got a Museum of Industry. But this isn’t like a Museum of Natural History, a monument to things dead and extinct. Manufacturing in Baltimore – and across America – is on the rise.
“When President Obama took office, the manufacturing sector was in serious decline. But this administration rejected the notion that U.S. manufacturing jobs were going the way of the dinosaurs. From day one, the President made manufacturing in the U.S. a cornerstone of his economic agenda by encouraging production and investment and creating well-paying jobs. And, while we have a ways to go, the President’s policies are working. This morning, we learned that the unemployment rate dropped to 5.9% the lowest level since July 2008, and that we created almost 250,000 private sector jobs last month.
“That’s a big deal. It was just 5 years ago that we were losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month and unemployment touched 10%.
“Between 2000 and 2010, culminating in the Great Recession, we lost 48K jobs a month in manufacturing. In the last 4 years, we’ve seen a gain of 12,000 manufacturing jobs a month, totaling 700,000 new manufacturing jobs in 4 years.
“Between 2000 and 2010, we saw manufacturing production decline 5.4%. In the last 4 years, we’ve seen manufacturing production increase 20%.
“Between 2000 and 2010, manufacturing exports grew only 3% a year on average. In the last 4 years, they’ve grown by 11% a year on average.
“Expanding trade, growing exports, to support jobs and growth here in America is a key part of the President’s agenda, which is why I’m here today. My job is to open markets around the world, tear down barriers and make sure that more cutting-edge products made here in Baltimore can be exported around the world.
“And today, thanks to businesses like Zentech, and thanks to President Obama’s commitment to supporting manufacturers, “Made-in-America” exports have never been higher.
“Zentech is helping make everything from communications equipment to medical devices like dental imaging equipment, some of its components end up in products sold in Germany and around the European Union. In terms of revenue, Matt estimates that roughly 10-15% of what Zentech makes for its customers is exported.
“The importance of exports has been growing here at Zentech and around the state. Last year, Maryland exported almost $12 billion of Made-in-America goods to the world, a record-breaking total that supported 55,000 jobs, and goods exports from just the metro area including Baltimore totaled $5.9 billion. Across America, an estimated 1 in 4 manufacturing jobs are supported by exports.
“We’re also seeing manufacturing jobs return from overseas. This isn’t just some theory; it’s one of the most exciting, true-life stories of the past few years.
“That includes Zentech, which in recent years has won contracts that had been given to suppliers based in China and elsewhere. (I hear they’re accepting job applications today.
“So are some of the world’s largest companies, including Caterpillar, Ford, GE, and Intel. They’re choosing to invest in the U.S. and bring jobs and production back home. One leading study estimates that this great migration of jobs from overseas back to cities like Baltimore, combined with increased U.S. exports, will support 2.5 to 5 million new jobs by the end of the decade.
“So, not only are manufacturing jobs not going extinct, they’re migrating to America. That’s partially because the United States has all the qualities of a good place to invest and set up shop.
“We have the world’s most attractive consumer market, one that is governed by a strong rule of law.
“We have an entrepreneurial culture and a talented, innovative workforce, which ranks first in productivity among the world’s leading exporting economies.
“We have abundant sources of affordable energy.
“And when you layer on top of that the trade agreements we’re negotiating with the Asia Pacific and with Europe, we’ll have free trade with two-thirds of the global economy.
“That makes the United States the world’s production platform of choice, the most attractive place for companies to make things, grow things, and export them all over the world.
“I hear from American businesses and foreign investors all the time that they want to be in America. And our trade policy is a key part of our investment policy and our manufacturing policy. They work hand in hand to create jobs, promote and strengthen the middle class in America.
“So, that’s why we’re pursuing the most ambitious trade agenda in history. Our markets are already among most open in the world. Our tariffs are low – about 1.5% on average. And we don’t use regulations to keep out other countries’ products. But that isn’t true around the world.
“That’s why we’re negotiating a cutting edge agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. 12 countries, representing 40% of the global economy. We’re going to open some of the fastest growing markets in the world and level the playing field for our workers and our firms by raising labor and environmental standards around the world.
“That’s why we’re negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or T-TIP, to expand and deepen what is already the largest economic relationship in the world – between the U.S. and Europe. We can do more, including by working together to help set high standards and effective regulations around the world.
“Together, TPP and T-TIP will cover three out of Maryland’s top five export markets, making it easier for Maryland workers, farmers, and businesses to sell more Made-in-America exports to their main customers.
“But negotiating trade agreements is just the first step. We need to make sure they’re fully enforced.
“And when it comes to enforcing trade agreements, this Administration has never hesitated to hold our trading partners to account. Every time the Administration has brought a dispute before the World Trade Organization and the WTO has made a decision, the United States has won.
“I could talk to you all day about the technical aspects of trade. But what this all comes down to, the reason why those topics matter today, is because manufacturing matters. It matters to this Administration. It matters to Baltimore. And it matters to America.
“These are exciting times. Exports are surging, jobs are returning. American workers and businesses are competing globally and winning. With businesses like Zentech thriving, it’s clear that Baltimore’s age of innovation has only begun.
“To keep up that momentum, we need to continue investing in our communities and in our colleges. We need more places like AACC attracting smart students and giving them the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.
“And we need to make sure the Baltimore Museum of Industry has room for more exhibits. It’ll need some space to tell the story of the next generation’s manufacturing success.
“Thank you, and good luck."