Interesting story from the Associated Press about the U.S. being on target with the five-year goal President Obama set in January 2010 to double American exports by the start of 2015. Experts doubt the goal will be met in two years but there are five big reasons for optimism about "insourcing" for American manufacturing after a decade of "outsourcing" production elsewhere.
- Cheap U.S. natural gas and other increased energy production are helping to power U.S. factories more efficiently.
- Higher wages in China are making U.S. outsourcing there less attractive.
- Congressional approval in 2011 of trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama and other agreements being negotiated with Asia and Europe are opening markets and leveling the playing field for U.S. goods. Those agreements, by the way, have helped Marlin Steel export material handling containers of steel wire and sheet metal to 36 countries.
- U.S. wage increases have been held down by unemployment.
- Technology advances have boosted efficiency and productivity and made automation more accessible and affordable to smaller manufacturers, such as here at Marlin Steel where we've invested $3.5 million in automation.
President Obama's starting point was 2009 exports of $1.57 trillion. They reached a record $2.19 trillion in 2012. The 2015 goal: $3.14 trillion.
"Some of the headwinds we faced last year have started to improve," Chad Moutay, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, as quoted as saying by the AP. "And I think energy is a game-changer. We definitely have increased the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing."