Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Made In America,” a round-up of state and global manufacturing news.
MICHIGAN GOVERNOR SIGNS MOU TO CREATE AUTO MANUFACTURING HUB WITH CHINESE COMPANIES
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is not the only U.S. governor making trips to China and other countries to drum up business investment. On a trip last week to the Far East country, Michigan Gov. Rick Synder signed a memorandum of understanding between Michigan-based Gage Products Co. and Lorin Industries and several Chinese companies to foster economic partnerships within the auto manufacturing industry.
According to the MOUs, China will be able to use products that are manufactured by the two Michigan companies. In return, the U.S. companies will gain access to export opportunity oversees, officials said. The trip to China was the sixth trade mission to China by the Snyder administration to China. Other missions led by Snyder or Lt. Gov. Brian Calley have included trips to Japan, South Korea, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Chile, Columbia, Switzerland, Ireland and Great Britain.
U.S. LUMBER MANUFACTURERS PETITION U.S. TRADE OFFICIALS TO HALT ILLEGAL CANADIAN SOFTWOOD DUMPING
The Committee Overseeing Action for Lumber International Trade Investigations or Negotiations (COALITION) on Friday (Nov. 25) petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission to restore the conditions of fair trade in softwood lumber between the U.S. and Canada.
The petition alleges that Canadian provincial governments, which own the vast bulk of Canada’s timberlands, provide standing trees to Canadian producers for an administered fee that is far below the market value of the timber, as well as a number of other subsidies. In addition, the complaint alleges that Canadian lumber is being sold for less than fair value in the U.S., which has caused harm to U.S. paper mills, workers and local communities that have closed softwood manufacturing facilities.
According to COALITION, which is an ad hoc group for the larger U.S. Lumber Coalition that represents domestic softwood manufacturers, Canadian subsidies and illegal dumping increased significantly after the expiration of the 2006-2015 softwood lumber trade agreement between the two North American countries.
Canadian lumber imports have surged from 29.5% of U.S. total consumption in the third quarter of 2015 to 33.1% in the fourth quarter of the same year and to 34.1% so far in 2016, the group says. The volume of imports from Canada in the first eight months of 2016 was more than 33% higher than in the same period of 2015. Canada’s gain in market share came at the direct expense of U.S. producers.
U.S. FIRMS WITH 50 EMPLOYEES OR LESS SEE STRONG FIRST QUARTER GROWTH
During the first three months of 2016, firms in the private sector with fewer than 50 employees had a net employment gain of 175,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This increase represented 78% of the total net employment increase of 224,000 jobs over the quarter.
While the smallest firms experienced a net employment gain during the quarter, the largest ones underwent a net employment loss. Firms with more than 250 employees lost 8,000 jobs during the quarter, a net decrease of 28,000 jobs among firms with more than 1,000 employees offset a net increase of 20,000 jobs at firms with 250–999 employees.
To learn more, see the bureau’s “Business Employment Dynamics — First Quarter 2016” report here.