Friday, February 02, 2007

Memo to Susan Schwab: U.S. Manufacturers Are Sending Production to China

The United States filed a complaint against China on behalf of American manufacturers.

"We are seeking to level the playing field to allow U.S. manufacturers to compete fairly with Chinese firms," U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said in announcing the case. The action will trigger a consultation during which trade negotiators will try to resolve the dispute. If that fails, a WTO hearing panel will be convened to handle the dispute.

Will that consultation show many U.S. manufacturers fueled outsourcing to the Asian economic giant during Bush’s term in office? Take NACCO Industries, a diversified American company with a huge small appliance division. In their latest SEC annual report, NACCO indicated it planned to shutter its final U.S. plant, located in North Carolina. All of their Hamilton Beach/Proctor-Silex appliances for domestic consumption are now made in China. (Plans called for a December 2006 conversion).

President Bush need not go far to talk to someone in the know on this issue. Robert Gates, the new Defense Department Chief who regularly meets with the President, served on the NACCO board of directors.

Will Susan walk down to Robert’s office at the Pentagon and file a complaint? Doubtful, but America’s board rooms & the U.S. Chamber of Commerce carry much responsibility. The once widely touted multiplier effect for domestic jobs has been replaced by the dollar extender computation for free trade.

Ironically another famous Gates should be quite knowledgeable on outsourcing to China, the Bill of Microsoft fame. Might China complain back on Microsoft’s failure to deliver those promised 1,000 jobs a year?

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