If you want to field a good baseball team, you don't just show up on opening day and say "Let's play." No, you carefully plan your team. You make sure to get the best pitchers ("pitching, pitching, pitching," as they say). And you make sure your sluggers take a lot of batting practice. In short you work at it and you plan.
The same fundamental idea applies to building a nation's manufacturing sector. With global competition so aggressive, it's not enough to simply hope that other countries will buy your exports. You have to make a concerted effort to build up your factories and then give them the tools to succeed.
Take Germany, for example. The German workforce continues to be well-paid and highly unionized while the country enjoys the position of being a manufacturing juggernaut. The secret? Thriving labor conditions are combined with smartly targeted niche production, industrial specialization, and deliberately localized financing.
Simply put, Germany has identified and implemented the key steps it needs to field a home run-hitting industrial sector.
However, almost every industrialized nation has adopted similar tactics. Common sense tells us that manufacturing generates value-added income. It produces wealth and supports good-paying jobs. Why shouldn't these countries do what it takes to win?
Sadly, the United States is the one major country without any semblance of a manufacturing strategy. The U.S. has no concerted plan to address predatory trade from other countries or to focus investment on new areas of technology. The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has repeatedly offered a key plan for U.S. manufacturing, one that would pull together efforts in these key areas.
The latest country intent on bypassing the U.S. on the road to industrial success is India. As Adrienne Selko reports in IndustryWeek, the Government of India is ramping up its factories:
In an effort to make manufacturing a larger percentage of its GDP (it’s
now at 16%) and employ 100 million people, the government of India
announced last week that it will cut regulatory burdens, create
manufacturing zones and promote green technologies.
Selko spoke with AAM Executive Director, who says that it's logical for India to take steps such as reducing bureaucracy and increasing industrial investment:
"India has a growing middle class and manufacturing for that market is a sound strategy. The threat is that the U.S. does not have its own national policy," explains Paul.