Come On, China, Buy Our Stuff!

A Gap Inc. store in Shanghai, China.

A Gap Inc. store in Shanghai, China.

By NYT ADAM DAVIDSON    Published: January 25, 2012

The first time I visited China, in 2005, an American businessman living there told me that the country was so huge and was changing so fast that everything you heard about it was true, and so was the opposite. That still seems to be the case. China is the fastest-growing consumer market in the world, and American companies have made billions there. At the same time, Chinese consumers aren’t spending nearly as much as American companies had hoped. China has simultaneously become the greatest boon and the biggest disappointment.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In 2000, the United States forged its current economic relationship with China by permanently granting it most-favored-nation trade status and, eventually, helping the country enter the World Trade Organization. The unspoken deal, though, went something like this: China could make a lot of cheap goods, which would benefit U.S. consumers, even if it cost the country countless low-end manufacturing jobs. And rather than, say, fight for an extra bit of market share in Chicago, American multinationals could offset any losses because of competition by entering a country with more than a billion people — including the fastest-growing middle class in history — just about to buy their first refrigerators, TVs and cars. It was as if the United States added a magical 51st state, one that was bigger and grew faster than all the others. We would all be better off.

More than a decade later, many are waiting for the payoff. Certainly, lots of American companies have made money, but many actual workers have paid a real price. What went wrong? In part, American businesses assumed that a wealthier China would look like, well, America, says Paul French, a longtime Shanghai-based analyst with Access Asia-Mintel. He notes that Chinese consumers have spent far less than expected, and the money they do spend is less likely to be spent on American goods. Read more of this post

State Of The Union Speech Text 2012

Below, Obama’s prepared remarks as released by the White House.

As Prepared for Delivery –Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought — and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home. Read more of this post

Schumer wants all military steel to be made in USA

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the Defense Department to restore the requirement that all steel used in military contracts be made in the United States.

Schumer is visiting Klein Steel in Rochester this morning. He says the military got all of its steel from domestic producers like Klein for 35 years until 2009, when the Defense Department dropped the made-in-the-USA requirement as demand soared due to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Now that the Iraq war has ended, Schumer says ample U.S. manufacturers exist to meet the military’s demand.

Schumer says reinstating the rule would likely bring new work to Klein, which currently employs more than 200 in Rochester.

Worker Blasts Adidas' Plan to Move NBA Jersey Production Overseas

by Joshua Rhett Miller, FOXNews.com

The lone major sport with its roots in America could soon see its premier players dunking and driving to the hoop wearing uniforms made in Thailand, costing nearly 100 workers their jobs in upstate New York.

Sports apparel giant Adidas plans to end its contract with Perry, N.Y.-based apparel supplier American Classic Outfitters (ACO), which currently manufactures more than half of the uniforms worn in the National Basketball Association.

And that’s downright un-American, says Donna Wampole, who has worked at ACO, outside Buffalo, for 22 years. She says losing Adidas’ business will undoubtedly hurt the company and will likely lead to layoffs.

“I think it’s horrible,” Wampole told FoxNews.com of the impending move. “They’re American teams, they should all be wearing American garments.”

Wampole, a production supervisor, said the company has been allotting shorter hours to employees in an effort to avoid job losses.

“They’re worried, there’s a lot of chatter,” Wampole said. “We’ve been trying to shift work around and reduce people’s hours to try and keep everybody employed. We’re struggling.”

New York Sen. Charles Schumer on Tuesday blasted Adidas’ move as “short-sighted” and called on the compnay to reverse its decision.

“It is flat wrong for Adidas to move the production of jerseys worn by NBA players outside the United States when there are U.S. companies that have done this work so well and for so long,” Schumer said in a statement to FoxNews.com.

“And to do it in this economic climate adds insult to injury. Basketball is a marquee American sport and the NBA is its premier stage.”

Rob Knoll, ACO’s senior vice president, told FoxNews.com that, barring new customers, 97 employees at the 200,000-square-foot New York plant could lose their jobs once Adidas moves its operations overseas, a decision Knoll said ACO officials learned just six weeks ago.

“We’re working diligently with our sales people,” Knoll said. “We do not want to close it. Our stance is will we not let this fail.”

Knoll said some employees at the plant have nearly 40 years tenure. Nearly all have been “scared to death” since Adidas’ plans have become public, he said.

“We’re not going to allow this facility to fail,” said Knoll, adding “it doesn’t look good.”

Schumer said ACO obtained a long-term contract with Adidas last year to become its exclusive provider of sports apparel. ACO then invested more than $1 million in facility improvements and equipment to produce NBA jerseys.

“The jerseys the NBA players wear should be made in the U.S.A, plain and simple,” Schumer’s statement continued. “From outfitting the original Dream Team to LeBron James to the WNBA, the workers right here in New York have produced a first-class product that has been a vital part of the sport’s growing popularity.”

Calls to the NBA seeking comment were not returned Tuesday. In a statement obtained by FoxNews.com, Adidas said it informed NCO of its decision in August.

“This decision is in line with both the company’s product strategy of developing and introducing new, innovative materials and technologies to basketball uniforms, and the company’s sourcing strategy of consolidating our supply chain,” the statement read. “This decision is in no way a reflection on the capabilities or performance of ACO who has been a great partner for many years. The Adidas Group continues to produce uniforms for professional, college and other amateur teams at more than 30 facilities in North America and will continue to do so moving forward.”

Schumer said that moving manufacturing overseas would deprive ACO of $7 million annually.

“To cut them off from the future growth of the sport is flat wrong,” Schumer said in his statement. “Adidas must do the right thing and reverse this decision, and continue to produce all these jerseys domestically at ACO. To do anything else is an insult to the American worker and sports fans everywhere in America.”

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