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Ford Motor Co. is canceling plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Mexico and instead is investing $700 million in Michigan, the automaker announced on Tuesday.
The company’s CEO, Mark Fields, told CNN that the move is a “vote of confidence” in President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to create a pro-business environment. Fields emphasized, however, that he did not negotiate any special deal with Trump.
“We didn’t cut a deal with Trump,” he said. “We did it for our business.”
Trump bashed Ford on the campaign trail over the automaker’s plan to invest $1.6 billion in Mexico by shifting its North American small-car production south of the border. Ford had emphasized that the move would not affect U.S. jobs because the automaker would be putting new vehicles into the Michigan plants.
But now Ford will instead build the Ford Focus at an existing plant in Mexico. It will also invest $700 million in its plant in Flat Rock, Mich. and create 700 jobs in an effort to produce more electric and self-driving cars. The automaker has said it plans to build a fully self-driving car by 2021.
“I am thrilled that we have been able to secure additional UAW-Ford jobs for American workers,” said Jimmy Settles, United Auto Workers vice president, according to CNN.
A Ford spokeswoman told The Hill that Trump’s team was notified of their plans Tuesday morning.
Ford is not the only automaker to draw Trump’s ire. Earlier Tuesday, the president-elect blasted General Motors on Twitter, threatening a “big border tax” on GM models made in Mexico.
November 12, 2013 Leave a comment
A lengthy New York Times report makes the case that Bloomberg News has softened its coverage of China for fear of having its reporters kicked out of the country.
Editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler denies the allegation, but the Times musters a great deal of evidence, starting with one Bloomberg story that hasn’t seen the light of day:
“The investigative report they had been working on for the better part of a year, which detailed the hidden financial ties between one of the wealthiest men in China and the families of top Chinese leaders, would not be published.
“In the call late last month, Mr. Winkler defended his decision, comparing it to the self-censorship by foreign news bureaus trying to preserve their ability to report inside Nazi-era Germany, according to Bloomberg employees familiar with the discussion.
“‘He said, “If we run the story, we’ll be kicked out of China,”’ one of the employees said. Less than a week later, a second article, about the children of senior Chinese officials employed by foreign banks, was also declared dead, employees said.
“Mr. Winkler said in an email on Friday that the articles in question were not killed. ‘What you have is untrue,’ he said. ‘The stories are active and not spiked.’”
In that case, the real test will be whether Bloomberg ever publishes them.
In a statement, Bloomberg News expresses disappointment in the Times piece and says “it is absolutely false that we postponed these stories due to external pressure.” But what about the kicked-out-of-China quote?
October 1, 2013 Leave a comment
By: Austin Wright – reposted from Politico
September 30, 2013 05:06 AM EDT
Domestic shoemakers are going toe to toe with the Pentagon over its footwear policies.
New Balance is leading a charge to force the military to buy U.S.-made running shoes for recruits, meeting with members of Congress and the Obama administration to press its case.
The company sees a $50 million opportunity in a population for which running is mandatory — and a cause that might be difficult for any flag-waving politician to oppose.
The military sees a regulatory headache.
The issue is significant for the Pentagon, which today allows the services to decide for themselves how best to buy running shoes. But a provision making its way through Congress could lead to a militarywide shoe policy — and another example of the transfer of power from the services to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which has expanded in recent years despite pledges to downsize by leaders past and present.
“We tend to grow by congressional fiat,” said one Pentagon official, requesting not to be identified to offer a candid take.
The standoff with shoemakers is also significant for the Defense Department because of the industry’s aggressive public relations push. Defense officials are accustomed to dealing with often deferential contractors, which depend on the Pentagon for a substantial portion of their sales and rarely disagree with the brass in public.
With New Balance, however, the shoe is on the other foot.
“We have not been quiet about our desire to see the department follow its own rules,” said company spokesman Matt LeBretton, referring to a 1941 statute called the Berry Amendment that requires the Pentagon to buy food, clothing and other items from producers inside the United States.
“Soldiers don’t have a choice for most of the gear that they’re given, so I don’t know why it would be different for athletic footwear,” LeBretton said. “The administration talks a lot about supporting domestic manufacturing — here’s an opportunity to do it.”
Each of the services has a different policy for equipping recruits with running shoes as they enter boot camp. The Army, for example, provides soldiers a one-time cash allowance to buy shoes from military exchanges, which stock a number of brands.
Men are given $75 for shoes and white socks, and women are given $347 for shoes, socks, black dress pumps, stockings, underwear and a black purse. The brass says it’s easier to handle this kind of purchase this way.
“For the Army to maintain those items in inventory, it would have to be quite a large inventory,” said Army spokesman Wayne Hall.
The Air Force, meanwhile, gives recruits $75 to purchase athletic shoes, also at military exchanges, following foot exams to determine the right brand and fit. The service spends about $2.3 million on the program each year, according to Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley.
Domestic shoemakers — and their allies on Capitol Hill — consider these policies a violation of the Berry Amendment because recruits are allowed to pick brands such as Nike, which produces most of its shoes outside the U.S.
Their message: Follow the lead of the Navy, which provides recruits only one brand option: New Balance.
The company was selected in part because its shoes “are assembled in the U.S.,” said Kristine Sturkie, a spokeswoman for the Navy Exchange Service Command. The service spent about $3 million last fiscal year to equip about 41,490 recruits with New Balance running shoes, she said.
A provision in the House version of this year’s defense authorization bill would force all the services to adopt a policy similar to the Navy’s — requiring military recruits to be equipped with U.S.-made shoes as they enter boot camp. The bill is expected to be taken up by the Senate before the end of the year.
The measure, championed by Democratic Reps. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts and Michael Michaud of Maine, would take effect only once the Pentagon certifies there are two suppliers capable of producing shoes compliant with the requirements of the Berry Amendment.
“Innovative companies, such as New Balance right here in Massachusetts, are able to provide our service members with quality products and keep business here on American soil,” Tsongas said in a statement. “It is time for the Department of Defense to treat athletic footwear like every other uniform item, including boots, and buy them from American manufacturers.”
LeBretton said New Balance doesn’t produce Berry-compliant shoes today; it uses some foreign-made materials. But he said New Balance and at least one other company could produce shoes made from start to finish in the United States — if there was a military-scale demand for them.
“The ‘Field of Dreams’ analogy applies,” he said. “If you build it, they will come.”
And Steve Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, said his group has been lobbying hard to get the Tsongas provision included in the final version of this year’s defense authorization bill.
“We’ve been talking to folks in both the House and the Senate to urge them to include this in the final package,” Lamar said. “It’s important, and obviously for the firms involved it’s a huge economic impact.”
To learn more about Made in USA Certification: www.USA-C.com
March 13, 2013 Leave a comment
By Chelsea J. Carter, Pam Benson and Mariano Castillo, CNN
Washington (CNN) — Cyberattacks pose more of a threat to the United States than a land-based attack by a terrorist group, while North Korea’s development of a nuclear weapons program poses a “serious threat,” the director of national intelligence told Congress on Tuesday.
The warning by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came in his annual report to Congress on the threats facing the United States.
“Attacks, which might involve cyber and financial weapons, can be deniable and unattributable,” Clapper said in prepared remarks before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Destruction can be invisible, latent and progressive.”
The Internet is increasingly being used as a tool both by nations and terror groups to achieve their objectives, according to Clapper’s report.
However, there is only a “remote chance” of a major cyberattack on the United States that would cause widespread disruptions, such as regional power outages, the report says. Most countries or groups don’t have the capacity to pull it off.
While Clapper emphasized possible cyberthreats, committee members raised questions about the potential nuclear dangers posed by North Korea and Iran, the increasing prevalence of al Qaeda in Syria and the effect of cuts to the U.S. budget on intelligence activities.
February 21, 2013 Leave a comment
Republican senators complained Wednesday that U.S. taxpayer dollars could end up boosting the Chinese economy, following reports that a Chinese firm is leading the pack of companies bidding for a majority stake in government-backed Fisker Automotive.
The troubled California-based electric car maker, which was backed by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of nearly $530 million, for months has been looking for a financial partner. Reuters reported earlier this week that China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is favored to take over, though Fisker is also reportedly weighing a bid from another Chinese auto maker.
The development comes after Fisker’s main battery supplier — U.S. government-backed A123 Systems — was recently purchased by a separate Chinese firm.
Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, voiced concern Wednesday that Chinese companies are benefiting from U.S. taxpayers’ investment.
“Obama’s green energy investments appear to be nothing more than venture capital for eventual Chinese acquisitions,” Thune said in a statement. “After stimulus-funded A123 was just acquired by a Chinese-based company, it’s troubling to see that yet another struggling taxpayer-backed company might be purchased under duress by a Chinese company.”
Grassley added: “Like A123, this looks like another example of taxpayer dollars going to a failed experiment. Technology developed with American taxpayer subsidies should not be sold off to China.”
Despite the Reuters report, Fisker stressed that the bidding process is still very much open.
“The company has received detailed proposals from multiple parties in different continents which are now being evaluated by the company and its advisors,” Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher said in a statement.
The Obama administration also defended the Energy Department’s overall loan program, which originally extended the nearly $530 million loan to Fisker in 2010.
February 10, 2013 2 Comments
China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s biggest trading nation last year as measured by the sum of exports and imports of goods, a milestone in the Asian nation’s challenge to the U.S. dominance in global commerce that emerged after the end of World War II.
U.S. exports and imports of goods last year totaled $3.82 trillion, the U.S. Commerce Department said last week. China’s customs administration reported last month that the country’s total trade in goods in 2012 amounted to $3.87 trillion.
China’s increasing influence threatens to disrupt regional trading blocs as it becomes the most important commercial partner for countries including Germany, which will export twice as much to China by the end of the decade as it does to neighboring France, said Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Jim O’Neill.
“For so many countries around the world, China is becoming rapidly the most important bilateral trade partner,” O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs’s asset management division and the economist who bound Brazil to Russia, India and China to form the BRIC investing strategy, said in a telephone interview. “At this kind of pace by the end of the decade many European countries will be doing more individual trade with China than with bilateral partners in Europe.”
When taking into account services, U.S. total trade amounted to $4.93 trillion in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The U.S. recorded a surplus in services of $195.3 billion last year and a goods deficit of more than $700 billion, according to BEA figures. China’s 2012 trade surplus, measured in goods, totaled $231.1 billion.
The U.S. economy is also double the size of China’s, according to the World Bank. In 2011, the U.S. gross domestic product reached $15 trillion while China’s totaled $7.3 trillion. China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported Jan. 18 that the country’s nominal gross domestic product in 2012 totaled 51.93 trillion yuan ($8.3 trillion).
“It is remarkable that an economy that is only a fraction of the size of the U.S. economy has a larger trading volume,” Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in an e-mail. “The surpassing of the U.S. is not because of a substantially undervalued currency that has led to an export boom,” said Lardy, noting that Chinese imports have grown more rapidly than exports since 2007.
The U.S. emerged as the preeminent trading power following World War II as it spearheaded the creation of the global trade and financial architecture and the U.K. began dismantling its colonial empire. China began focusing on trade and foreign investment to boost its economy after decades of isolation under Chairman Mao Zedong. Economic growth averaged 9.9 percent a year from 1978 through 2012.
China became the world’s biggest exporter in 2009, while the U.S. remains the biggest importer, taking in $2.28 trillion in goods last year compared with China’s $1.82 trillion of imports. HSBC Holdings Plc forecast last year that China would overtake the U.S. as the top trading nation by 2016.
China was last considered the leading economy during the height of the Qing dynasty. The difference is that in the 18th century, the Qing Empire — unlike rising Britain — didn’t focus on trade. The Emperor Qianlong told King George III in a 1793 letter that “we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and I have no use for your country’s manufactures.”
While China is the biggest energy user, has the world’s biggest new car market and the largest foreign currency reserves, a significant portion of China’s trade involves importing raw materials and parts to be assembled into finished products and re-exported, an activity that provides “only modest value added,” Eswar Prasad, a former International Monetary Fund official who is now a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, said in an e-mail.
Last month China’s trade expanded more than estimated, with exports rising 25 percent from a year earlier and imports increasing 28.8 percent, government data released yesterday showed. China’s trade figures in January and February are distorted by the week-long Lunar New Year holiday that fell in January of last year and started yesterday.
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January 24, 2013 1 Comment
January 17, 2013 | By Mike Troy
The first indication that something big was brewing with Walmart on the domestic sourcing front came last week.
That’s when Walmart announced internally at that SVP of home, Michelle Gloeckler, would assume additional responsibilities for a new U.S. sourcing and manufacturing initiative. Reporting to Gloeckler is Greg Hall who was named vp of U.S. sourcing and manufacturing after previously serving as vp of marketing for Walmart.com.
For complete article Source: http://www.retailingtoday.com/article/made-usa-supplier-summit-coming-soon
January 22, 2013 Leave a comment
On the Roy G. Biv scale, the Obama family dominated the color spectrum in blues, indigos and violets Monday morning.
First Lady Michelle Obama stunned in a custom-designed, navy Thom Browne jacquard dress and coat, while her daughters dazzled in bright purple ensembles on Inauguration Day.
Thom Browne, a relatively obscure New York-based designer who grew up in Allentown, generated a tremendous amount of buzz within the realm of fashion and beyond after FLOTUS stepped out in his designs Monday. Although Browne, the brother of Pa. State Senator Pat Browne, is recognized largely for his contributions to menswear, the designer launched his womenswear line in 2011. Evidently, the President’s wife wearing his creation on Inauguration Day is a significant step forward in the women’s department for the designer. The two initially met at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum awards in July 2012. Michelle Obama has since worn Thom Browne items to mark other public events.
The designer told the New York Times‘ Eric Wilson, “It’s one of those moments when I just can’t believe that happened.” The Today show’s Savannah Guthrie admitted she did not know who Browne was, although fans of the First Lady’s style will be well-acquainted with him soon.
As for the inspiration behind the outfit? Her coat – specifically the fabric – was created based on a man’s silk tie. Browne, who debuted his menswear line in Paris this weekend, told CNN‘s Alina Cho that he chose dark blue for the First Lady because he was “mindful POTUS might also wear navy.” Largely recognized for his menswear collections, Browne discovered that the First Lady had worn his designs Inauguration Day thirty minutes after viewers first spotted the Obama family at 9 a.m. The Inauguration went down one day after Browne caused fashion ripples in Paris where he debuted his Fall/Winter menswear line.
A fan of preppy American label J.Crew, FLOTUS linked the brand into her ensemble with her belt and shoes as she walked into St. John’s Church for a service earlier that morning. Regarding Obama’s use of the belt layered over the coat, J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons told WWD, “It looks great. I hope Thom is alright with it.” The source of her lush, leather clover gloves were also a product of J.Crew – in good company with Italian luxury brand Portolano. As of Monday afternoon, the Valentina patent pumps werestill in stock on jcrew.com. The exact pair of gloves were nowhere to be found on the brand’s website, although interested buyers are recommended to scour auction websites like eBay.
She paired the outfit with a necklace by Cathy Waterman, while her cardigan was designed by another American designer – Reed Krakoff – whose creations she selected for Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony. The First Lady later swapped into boots later that morning, which were also designed by Krakoff according to a White House official.
Meanwhile, “Rosebud” Malia also wore an outfit from J.Crew, while her sister Sasha, Secret Service code named “Radiance,” wore a dress and coat from Kate Spade. Deborah Lloyd, creative director of Kate Spade New York told AP, “[Sasha] epitomizes the youthful optimism and colorful spirit of the brand. We are so proud to have been a part of this historic moment.” Lyons shared with Wilson that Malia’s coat was off the rack. Her buttons were customized for the affair. “You can see how the girls have grown up in the four years, and they’re still so alive and vibrant, but more sophisticated,” Lyons shared enthusiastically with the same media outlet.
As for their father, the President stepped outdoors in a blue tie, white shirt and dark suit, beneath the exact same Brooks Brothers overcoat he wore when he took the oath in 2009, WWD reports. Four years ago, the First Lady wore a sparkly yellow coat and dress by Isabel Toledo. Michelle Obama is a champion of consciously and thoughtfully selecting American designers to help raise their profiles.
Known for repeating outfits, she is unable to recycle this gem of a dress and coat. Her complete ensemble, including the accompanying accessories, will go to the National Archives.
January 22, 2013 1 Comment
Oliver St. John, USA TODAY10:11p.m. EST January 21, 2013
It’s becoming downright American to make stuff in America.
Small manufacturers, craftsmen and retailers are marketing the Made-in-USA tag to score do-gooder points with consumers for employing stateside, says Margarita Mendoza, founder of the Made in America Movement, a lobbying organization for small manufacturers.
It’s working: Over 80% of Americans are willing to pay more for Made-in-USA products, 93% of whom say it’s because they want to keep jobs in the USA, according to a survey released in November by Boston Consulting Group. In ultra-partisan times, it’s one of the few issues both Democrats and Republicans agree on.
When considering similar products made in the U.S. vs. China, the average American is willing to pay up to 60% more for U.S.-made wooden baby toys, 30% more for U.S.-made mobile phones and 19% more for U.S.-made gas ranges, the survey says.
Now Wal-Mart wants a piece of the action. The behemoth, embroiled over the past year with worker protests and foreign bribery investigations, pledged recently to source $50 billion of products in the U.S. over the next 10 years, says Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove. They’re not alone. Mendoza says both Caterpillar and 3M have also made efforts to source more in the U.S.
“Regardless if this is a PR ploy or not, it doesn’t matter. A lot more people will look for the Made-in-USA tag,” she says, adding that, considering Wal-Mart’s size, $5 billion a year is only “a drop in the bucket,” for the retailer whose 2012 sales reached almost $444 billion.
Kyle Rancourt says his American-made shoe company, Rancourt & Co., hit it big as concern over U.S. jobs mounted when the recession hit in 2009. But he says he lies awake at night worrying if Made-in-USA is just a passing fad.
“It’s inevitable that times will change,” Rancourt says. “But I am still holding out hope that this has become a core value of our country.”
Mendoza says that if buying American turns out to be a passing fad, the country is in trouble.
“If they don’t understand the economic factor, we need to pull on their heartstrings,” she says. “The thought of having a country like China taking over, that alone is bone-chilling.”
But do folks care enough about U.S. manufacturing jobs to permanently change the way they shop? David Aaker, vice chairman of brand consulting firm Prophet, says the companies that get the most credit for being American, such as Apple and Cisco, don’t even source products in the U.S.
“I don’t think it matters unless it becomes visible,” Aaker says. “The most common way for that is if something bad happens, like if Nike gets some press about conditions in factories overseas.”
But Rancourt says his customers believe foreign-made shoes lack the soul of their American counterparts.
“There’s hundreds if not thousands of workers working on those factories. They do one specific job, maybe put an eyelet into a specific place,” he says. “They don’t have an idea or concept of a finished product and how that should look.”
Just watch out for phony Made-in-USA claims. It’s illegal to claim a product is U.S.-made unless both the product and all it’s components are sourced in the U.S. Even products that could imply a phony country of origin with a flag or country outline are verboten. Julia Solomon Ensor, enforcement lawyer at the Federal Trade Commission, says the FTC gets “several complaints each month about potentially deceptive ‘Made-in-the-USA’ claims.”
It sets a bad example. Mendoza says the U.S. needs to let kids know it’s OK to work in manufacturing. “Not all children are going to grow up to be dentists, and lawyers, and investment bankers.”