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Can the U.S. Get Behind “Made in the U.S.A.”?

The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have a national manufacturing strategy

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Kudos to Rana Foroohar and Bill Saporito for asking whether U.S. manufacturing is making a comeback (“Made in the U.S.A.“)  As they’ve observed, exciting developments like “additive manufacturing” are indeed pointing the way to a potentially dramatic new industrial era in the U.S.

But America’s manufacturers aren’t the only ones jumping on the additive manufacturing bandwagon, and competition for an ever-changing share of global industry is intense.

Unfortunately, America’s manufacturers face one overarching challenge: The United States stands virtually alone among industrialized countries as the only nation that does not utilize a national manufacturing strategy.

The truth is that every other advanced economy in the world employs a strategy to maintain and increase their market share of manufacturing.  So while America can indeed see a manufacturing resurgence, there’s much to do in order to substantially increase any rebound.

To encourage domestic manufacturing, Congress should identify and dedicate financing for a long-term infrastructure improvement program, and we should apply Buy America provisions to all federal procurement rules. The Department of Defense should award procurement contracts to firms that commit to increasing the domestic content of the military equipment they supply to the Pentagon. And we should be mindful of the hostile conditions outside our borders, too, by expanding the tools with which American manufacturers can combat intellectual property theft, currency manipulation, and barriers to market access.

This partial list would be a sensible start, and if we’re ever to get anywhere close to creating the 1 million new manufacturing jobs that President Obama has promised by the end of his second term, we should start now.

Yes, the stars are aligning for a real manufacturing rebound. But we need a solid, policy-driven national manufacturing strategy to make that happen.

Scott Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, Washington, D.C.