Letter from MEMA President Steve Handschuh: Working Hard for You on NAFTA, Other Issues

Date: October 20, 2017
Source: MEMA Industry News
MEMA Industry News Editor’s Note: In this letter to all members of MEMA and its divisions (AASA, HDMA, MERA and OESA), President and CEO Steve Handschuh reports on the association’s advocacy efforts under the Trump administration, particularly regarding the renegotiation of NAFTA.
The first year of the Trump administration has been a busy time for your trade association, which has been working hard to address a number of issues critical to your business. Among the most important of these is the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the White House initiated this summer. We know that changes to NAFTA suggested by the administration could impact your company, and we have dedicated significant resources to tackling this issue. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you an update on the work we have been doing on your behalf.
MEMA has launched a multi-pronged, comprehensive effort to communicate MEMA’s positions on NAFTA renegotiations. The message is loud and clear in Washington and nationwide: NAFTA works, and while modernization is desirable, the U.S. should do no harm to this critical trade agreement.
Your MEMA team has been actively involved in discussions with the U.S. trade negotiators and has led meetings aimed at finding common ground and a more unified voice with our sister trade organizations, including the American Automotive Policy Council, the Association of Global Automakers, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and the National Association of Manufacturers. MEMA has established on-going meetings with our counterparts in Mexico and Canada, and together we are working toward an approach that will preserve the portions of NAFTA that are beneficial while embracing positive changes to a 25-year-old agreement.
Most recently, MEMA took the lead in the national discussion on NAFTA and its rules of origin in a letter to the editor published in the Washington Post. MEMA has also engaged with the national media to ensure that the voice of the supplier community has been heard. MEMA’s point of view on NAFTA and the rules of origin were echoed this week in a lead editorial by the Wall Street Journal. Armed with data and real-world insight, there is little doubt that MEMA is a critical national voice on NAFTA and that what we are saying is being heard by policymakers, including the Trump administration.
While the media coverage is important, we are reaching these audiences on a number of platforms here in Washington. MEMA has released a one-page, graphical report on the economic impact of the motor vehicle parts manufacturing industry on the U.S. economy and the role NAFTA plays in U.S. employment. The mini report was sent to every member of Congress on Capitol Hill, as MEMA and its four specialized divisions work to strengthen America’s global manufacturing competitiveness, which would create more American jobs.
In comments submitted June 12 to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, MEMA took a firm stance on behalf of its members arguing that great care be taken in renegotiating or modernizing NAFTA. Additionally, MEMA testified before the USTR during a June 28 public hearing, released critical studies on the effects of NAFTA renegotiation, and held two standing-room-only policy panel discussions on NAFTA and the automotive industry. These policy discussions set the tone in Washington and positions your trade association as a thought leader on the issue.
Much of MEMA’s grassroots and government affairs activities have been fueled by meaningful data from studies, commissioned by MEMA and conducted independently by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) this year, which examine the real-world implications of changes to NAFTA on the motor vehicle sector. According to the studies, an increase in NAFTA’s tariffs or rules of origin would place U.S. motor vehicle parts manufacturers at a disadvantage against companies in other countries, which import about the same percentage of components from low-cost countries as their U.S counterparts do now, and put up to 50,000 U.S. supplier jobs at risk.
The supplier voice is strong in D.C. Legislators and regulators know that more than 871,000 Americans are directly employed by the automotive parts manufacturing industry. This number, which is up from 734,000 in 2012, represents 2.9 percent of the jobs in the total U.S. employment market and 2.4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Together with indirect and employment-induced jobs, the total employment impact of the motor vehicle parts manufacturing industry is 4.26 million jobs, an increase of nearly 18 percent from 3.26 million in 2012. 
Since day one of the Trump administration, MEMA has been in full stride. MEMA expects speculation and uncertainly to continue regarding the U.S. trade environment. MEMA and its divisions are committed to working closely with the Trump administration and Congress to strengthen Americas global manufacturing competitiveness, which would create more American jobs.
Many MEMA members are already engaged. You can be involved, too.
  • Visit the MEMA Action Center to contact the members of Congress representing you and your facilities and educate them on the impact changes to NAFTA could have on your business; schedule a meeting with your members of Congress, in D.C. or their local office; or invite them to tour your manufacturing facilities. Find your members of Congress and their contact info here
  • Participate in the MEMA Trade Working Group or the MEMA Government Affairs Committee, which help develop policy and strategy positions, by contacting bhuxley@mema.org
  • Save the Date for MEMA’s Legislative Summit and tell your story on Capitol Hill, April 10-11, 2018
  • Subscribe to MEMA’s Washington Insider newsletter by contacting bhuxley@mema.org
If you would like additional information regarding any of these activities, please contact Ann Wilson or Tom Lehner
Steve Handschuh
President & CEO
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