Town hall meeting to address “Keep it Made in America”

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Rebuilding the manufacturing base and creating jobs in western New York is the focus of a town hall meeting being held in downtown Buffalo Monday night.

It’s called the ‘Keep it Made in America’ Town Hall. And it’s being hosted by the Alliance for American Manufacturing and the United Steelworkers.

The union’s District 4 Director John Shinn says the goal is to help business leaders, organized labor, elected officials, educators and citizens understand the role manufacturing can play in reinvigorating the economy.

“Citizens of the state, when they have these manufacturing jobs, they spend money. It helps the secondary businesses. One dollar paid to a worker in New York state in the manufacturing sector would role over to the area businesses three, four times.”

Shinn says governments can help by enacting policies that guarantee taxpayer funded projects use goods made in the USA. And he says the academic community can help by educating students with the necessary skills to fill jobs.
“There’s a demand for skilled labor positions within manufacturing and also semi-skilled labor positions…We have employers that can’t hire instrument technicians, electricians, welders, pipe fitters…these are good living-wage jobs.”

The meeting includes panel discussions, video presentations and opportunities for audience participation.  It gets underway Monday in Asbury Hall on Delaware Avenue at 6 p.m.

 

 

Source:http://news.wbfo.org/post/town-hall-meeting-address-keep-it-made-america

US Swipes at China for Hacking Allegations

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The U.S. has taken its first real swipe at China following accusations that the Beijing government is behind a widespread and systemic hacking campaign targeting U.S. businesses.

Buried in a spending bill signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday is a provision that effectively bars much of the federal government from buying information technology made by companies linked to the Chinese government.

It’s unclear what impact the legislation will have, or whether it will turn out to be a symbolic gesture. The provision only affects certain non-defense government agency budgets between now and Sept. 30, when the fiscal year ends. It also allows for exceptions if an agency head determines that buying the technology is “in the national interest of the United States.”

Still, the rule could upset U.S. allies whose businesses rely on Chinese manufacturers for parts and pave the way for broader, more permanent changes in how the U.S. government buys technology.

“This is a change of direction,” said Stuart Baker, a former senior official at the Homeland Security Department now with the legal firm Steptoe and Johnson in Washington. “My guess is we’re going to keep going in this direction for a while.”

In March, the U.S. computer security firm Mandiant released details on what it said was an aggressive hacking campaign on American businesses by a Chinese military unit. Since then, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has used high-level meetings with Beijing officials to press the matter. Beijing has denied the allegations.

Congressional leaders have promised to push comprehensive legislation that would make it easier for industry to share threat data with the government. But those efforts have been bogged down amid concerns that too much of U.S. citizens’ private information could end up in the hands of the federal government.

As Congress and privacy advocates debate a way ahead, lawmakers tucked “section 516” into the latest budget resolution, which enables the government to pay for day-to day operations for the rest of the fiscal year. The provision specifically prohibits the Commerce and Justice departments, NASA and the National Science Foundation from buying an information technology system that is “produced, manufactured or assembled” by any entity that is “owned, operated or subsidized” by the People’s Republic of China.

The agencies can only acquire the technology if, in consulting with the FBI, they determine that there is no risk of “cyberespionage or sabotage associated with the acquisition of the system,” according to the legislation.

The move might sound like a no-brainer. If U.S. industry and intelligence officials are right, and China is stealing America’s corporate secrets at a breathtaking pace, why reward Beijing with lucrative U.S. contracts? Furthermore, why install technical equipment that could potentially give China a secret backdoor into federal systems?

But a blanket prohibition on technology made by the Chinese government may be easier said than done. Information systems are often a complicated assembly of parts manufactured by different companies around the globe. And investigating where each part came from, and if that part is made by a company that could have ties to the Chinese government could be difficult.

Depending on how the Obama administration interprets the law, Baker said it could cause problems for the U.S. with the World Trade Organization, whose members include U.S. allies like Germany and Britain that might rely on Chinese technology to build computers or handsets.

But in the end, Baker says it could make the U.S. government safer and wiser.

“We do have to worry about buying equipment from companies that may not have our best interests at heart,” he said.

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Follow Anne Flaherty on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AnneKFlaherty.

Also Read

 

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/us-swipes-china-hacking-allegations-193407762.html

U.S. Demands China Block Cyberattacks and Agree to Rules

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Reposted from The New York Times

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Mark Landler and David Sanger  |  March 11, 2013  |  The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The White House demanded Monday that the Chinese government stop the widespread theft of data from American computer networks and agree to “acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace.”

The demand, made in a speech by President Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, was the first public confrontation with China over cyberespionage and came two days after its foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, rejected a growing body of evidence that his country’s military was involved in cyberattacks on American corporations and some government agencies.

The White House, Mr. Donilon said, is seeking three things from Beijing: public recognition of the urgency of the problem; a commitment to crack down on hackers in China; and an agreement to take part in a dialogue to establish global standards.

“Increasingly, U.S. businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyberintrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale,” Mr. Donilon said in a wide-ranging address to the Asia Society in New York.

“The international community,” he added, “cannot tolerate such activity from any country.”

In Beijing, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, did not directly say whether the government is willing to negotiate over the proposals spelled out by Mr. Donilon. But at a daily news briefing Tuesday she repeated the government’s position that it opposes Internet attacks and wants “constructive dialogue” with the United States and other countries about cybersecurity issues.

Until now, the White House has steered clear of mentioning China by name when discussing cybercrime, though Mr. Obama and other officials have raised it privately with Chinese counterparts. In his State of the Union address, he said, “We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets.”

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Europeans want U.S. to Ditch “Buy American” Rules

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Obama keeps pushing a Trans Atlantic trade deal with Europe, despite the fact that other trade deals have helped make the trade deficit worse.

One of the goals for Europeans is to get rid of Buy American rules in the U.S.

In particular, the [European Union] wants to pry open so-called public procurement markets and scrap “Buy American” clauses that restrict the ability of European companies to sell goods and services to states and cities.

The U.S. public strongly believes their taxpayer dollars should be spent procuring from U.S. companies and workers.  A majority in Congress votes for Buy American rules in infrastructure and other bills.  Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) have been leading the efforts recently.  How can a fiscal stimulus have an impact if we buy foreign goods with taxpayer money?  That’s one difference between the FDR stimulus of the Great Depression and the smaller Obama stimulus of the Great Recession… offshore leakage of the government spending.

It’s not surprising that Europe wants to replace U.S. businesses and workers in government contracts.  The U.S. federal government is the biggest consumer in the world… and when you add in the state and local governments, it’s really big.  From the U.S. side there is simply no way we’d come away with a net benefit with theoretical market access by our so-called “U.S.” multinationals (who don’t really consider themselves U.S. anymore) to other smaller government procurement markets.  It simply doesn’t ever work that way.

I’m not sure where the Obama Administration is coming from on this.  The biggest source of jobs and growth will come from reducing the trade deficit.  We had a record $735B goods trade deficit last year, including a $300B goods deficit with China.  Trade deals simply don’t help the trade deficit, usually make things worse, and tie our hands for fixing the problem.

 

Source: http://www.tradereform.org/2013/03/europeans-want-u-s-to-ditch-buy-american-rules/

Cyberattacks, N. Korea, jihadist groups top U.S. threats

Cyberattacks

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.

President Obama cracks whip on cybercrime

‘Belligerent rhetoric’

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China’s hacking, brought to you by U.S. trade policy.

 

 

China and US Flag

Dear Friend,

Washington still doesn’t get it. We’ve known for years that China hacks government networks, industry computers, and advocacy groups like ours.

A study released last week by a Virginia-based cyber-security company confirms this: The Chinese military is responsible for a series of sophisticated computer hacking attacks on more than 140 American companies.

These hackers have stolen everything from product design blueprints to business strategies, and have also made a persistent effort to gain access to the controls of our infrastructure, including oil and gas pipelines and our electrical grid.

The Obama administration has known about China’s cyber hacking for some time. But the White House has sat on its hands because it believes calling Beijing out for cheating could undermine our overall relationship. In fact, the Administration still sometimes refrains from specifically identifying China as the hacking extraordinaire it’s proving itself to be.

News flash: When China uses its military to steal from American companies, it undermines our relationship. And when it starts groping for a hand on our power switch, we need to rethink what we’re getting in return.

Our official strategy — twisting like a pretzel to avoid offending the Chinese government (even when we catch them stealing from us) — is clearly not working. So why not try something else?

We run an enormous trade deficit with China every year, including a record $315 billion in 2012.  China uses that money to spy on us. So here’s an idea: Why not use our trade relationship to force Beijing to play by the rules?

Contrary to what some Washington insiders suggest, getting tough on China’s cheating won’t start a trade war. Just like anyone else, China responds to pressure. In fact, when Washington has actually moved to address China’scurrency manipulation, Beijing has responded by budging the value of its currency incrementally (see the chart, above).

Yes, we have a large, complex relationship with China.  But it’s really not rocket science: Calling out Beijing for flouting the rules gets results, a point I made this morning in an editorial for CNBC.

If China’s cyber-hacking concerns you, keep yourself up to date.  Follow the conversation on our blog, ManufactureThis, and on TwitterFacebookPinterest, and Tumblr.

Together, we can keep it Made in America!

Sincerely,

Scott Paul
President
Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM)

How Ending Currency Manipulation Will Help Manufacturers

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Many American economists and policymakers believe that currency manipulation by U.S. trading partners such as Japan and Singapore – and especially China – creates a drag on the U.S. economy and depresses the country’s manufacturing sector.

Currency Manipulation

Currency manipulation by U.S. trading partners such as Japan and Singapore – and especially China – creates a drag on the U.S. economy and depresses the country’s manufacturing sector.

Currency manipulation involves artificially reducing the value of a country’s own currency, in effect providing a subsidy for national exports. Currency manipulators often buy U.S. treasury bonds to prevent their own currencies from strengthening. In the case of China, the country’s trade with the U.S. brings in an excess of U.S. dollars and would normally create a shortage of yuans. But to avoid the yuan’s appreciation and prop up its manufacturing sector, China buys up U.S. treasuries to keep the yuan out of currency exchange markets, thus maintaining an artificially low value.

About one out of every six U.S. private-sector jobs is in manufacturing, 17.2 million in total, according to the National Association of Manufacturers(NAM). However, manufacturing dominates when it comes to U.S. trade goods, accounting for 86 percent of exports in 2011, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) says. So a U.S. trade deficit, exacerbated by currency manipulation, has a disproportionately negative effect on the manufacturing sector.

Robert E. Scott, Helen Jorgensen, and Doug Hall of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) explain that reviving the crucial U.S. manufacturing sector “requires eliminating a jobs-destroying U.S. trade deficit in goods,” in large part by ending currency manipulation. Currency manipulation, the group says, “distorts international trade flows by artificially lowering the cost of U.S. imports and raising the cost of U.S. exports,” thereby displacing American manufacturing jobs.

Eliminating currency manipulation would reduce the U.S. trade goods deficit by at least $190 billion and as much as $400 billion over three years, allowing the U.S. to “reap enormous benefits” without any increase in federal spending or taxation. This would reduce U.S. unemployment by 1 to 2.1 percentage points and create between 2.2 million and 4.7 million jobs; between 620,000 and 1.3 million of those jobs would be in manufacturing. In addition, U.S. GDP would increase between 1.4 percent and 3.1 percent.

The Group of Seven (G7) top industrial nations is concerned that continued currency manipulation is creating dangerous instability in the global economy. The organization, which is comprised of the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.K., recently saidits members are committed to market-determined exchange rates and “will remain oriented towards meeting our respective domestic objectives using domestic instruments.”

The G7 affirmed that they “will not target exchange rates” – meaning they themselves refuse to be involved in currency manipulation. “We are agreed that excessive volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability,” the group declared.

Artificially lowering a country’s exchange rate can make its exports cheaper and promote growth internally, but that only causes problems for other countries because one currency can fall only if another rises. This imbalance, the EPI warns, “could spark a ‘currency war’ – a destabilizing battle where countries compete against one another to get the lowest exchange rate.” This scenario “conjures up images of the 1930s, when countries pursued tit-for-tat devaluations in order to get an edge… the outcome was to decimate global trade, accentuate the depression, and sow the seeds for World War II,” according to the institute.

 

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), argued that policymakers need to act now to prevent further harm from unfair trade practices.

“Congress is obsessed with the wrong deficit,” Paul said. “To grow jobs and boost the economy, we must eliminate the trade deficit. Ending currency manipulation will get us part of the way there, but we also need a smart manufacturing policy, one that focuses on innovation, public investment, skills, and trade enforcement.”

According to the EPI report, any U.S president could end currency manipulation with a stroke of the pen: “The president could simply declare that the United States will no longer sell Treasury bills and other government assets to China and other countries that refuse to allow the United States to purchase their government assets… Refusing to sell assets to currency manipulators would eliminate the principal tool used by foreign central banks to manipulate their currencies: purchases of Treasury bills and other government securities…”

Olli Rehn, top monetary affairs official for the European Commission (EC), told the Associated Press that joint governmental efforts are needed to fight the adverse effects of “excess volatility and disorderly movements” in exchange rates. “That’s why we need to lean on active international policy coordination in order to prevent a wave of competitive devaluations.”

 

 

Source: http://news.thomasnet.com/IMT/2013/02/26/how-ending-currency-manipulation-will-help-manufacturers/

China Passes U.S. to Become World’s Biggest Trading Nation

Bloomberg News

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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Obama Push on Advanced Manufacturing Stirs Economic Debate

In a White House switch, pro-manufacturing advisers have the ear of the president.

Jobs plan: President Obama addressing manufacturing workers in 2012.

Before a packed arena at the national convention of the Democratic Party in September, Barack Obama outlined a vision for America’s economic recovery with manufacturing as its engine.

“After a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last two-and-a-half years,” Obama told the cheering crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina. “If we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years.”

To fulfill those promises, the White House is turning to an economic tool not seen in Washington for years: industrial policy.

Emboldened by a new cadre of advisors, the Obama administration has proposed policies to boost domestic manufacturing involving tax breaks, new R&D spending, and vocational training of two million workers including around advanced technologies like batteries, computing, aerospace, and robotics.

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Chinese bid for A123 may raise security risks: Senators

A123

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Chinese company’s attempt to take over government-backed battery maker A123 raises serious national security concerns, a bipartisan group of lawmakers said this week, adding to growing congressional opposition to the deal.

China’s Wanxiang Group Corp is currently competing with U.S.-based Johnson Controls Inc to buy bankrupt A123, which makes lithium ion batteries for electric cars.

The government must ensure that any sale of A123’s technology, which has also been used by the military and to support the U.S. electrical grid, does not threaten domestic security, the senators said in letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and other top cabinet officials.

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