IHS Chemical Week


Manufacturing Czar Good for the Chemical Industry

2:31 PM MDT | October 7, 2009 | By JOE ACKER

Throughout its history, the U.S. chemical industry has played a vital role in driving economic growth in the country. Other key sectors of the economy–from farming to electronics to pharmaceuticals–rely heavily on the chemical industry for key raw materials or specialty ingredients. The ability of chemical manufacturers to continuously provide innovative new products and solutions for a nearly infinite array of applications has helped establish the U.S. as a world leader.

In recent years, though, U.S. manufacturing in general has struggled to remain competitive, with many large companies electing to move production facilities to lower-cost regions of the world. The chemical industry has not been immune.

The creation by President Obama of the position of Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy is a hopeful sign that the administration recognizes the critical importance of manufacturing to the American economy and plans to take action to revitalize the sector.

At SOCMA, we look forward to working with Ron Bloom on addressing issues related to the competitiveness of the chemical industry. Specifically we hope to discuss challenges facing small and mid-sized businesses. Topics such as trade agreements, access to skilled workers, energy resources, R&D tax credits, and other tax burdens all affect the ability of SOCMA members to invest in innovation and technology development, both of which are so critical to remaining competitive in the evolving global economic climate.

One issue we will raise early on in our dialogue with Bloom concerns recent proposals by the White House and other senators to change international tax laws, in effect raising taxes on companies with operations in foreign countries. This move will decrease the competitiveness of these corporations–including some SOCMA members--and ultimately drive more manufacturing out of the U.S. and into markets where companies will benefit from tax incentives.

As Bloom works with the National Economic Council and the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, Energy, and Labor, and presents the concerns of the manufacturing community to the President, SOCMA is hopeful he will be able to develop strategies and policies that resolve issues such as this one in a way that ultimately supports and encourages expansion of U.S. manufacturing.

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