Brookings Institution Examines the State of Manufacturing Under Trump

Brookings Institution via YouTube

The president promised a lot on the campaign trial.

What’s new under Trump? 

The Brookings Institution hosted a half-day conference on Thursday to examine the future of manufacturing under the Trump administration. The sixth annual John Hazen White Forum on Manufacturing featured three panels that each offered different perspectives — from the media, from the United States, and from the global stage — on the potential impact of Trump’s manufacturing policies. 

The overall message from Thursday’s event: People across the manufacturing spectrum are eager to see if President Trump will deliver on the promises and famous rhetoric we all heard during the 2016 presidential election.

The event kicked off with the media. Darrell West, Brookings Institute’s vice president and director of Governance Studies, asked three panelists from the media segment about the differences they have seen from the Trump administration compared to the Obama administration. 

Timothy Aeppel, a reporter for Reuters, noted that Trump seems to be more focused on rhetoric regarding manufacturing than substance of the issue. In other words, Trump is talking a big game for American manufacturing jobs — but is he delivering? 

Aeppel noted that while Trump has high expectations for improvement, we have not seen positive results on his rhetoric, at least so far.

Michelle Jamrisko, a reporter for Bloomberg News, called attention to Trump’s emphasis on winners versus losers. She noted how Trump said that the United States has lost for many decades on manufacturing and trade, but “we” are going to win again. 

As for one of Trump’s big policy pushes thus far —apprenticeships — Jamrisko said she believes that Obama took a more government-led, incentivized approach, whereas Trump is taking a more business-focused approach. 

On the trade front, Marketplace reporter Nancy Marshall-Genzer said the United States should expect more bilateral trade agreements under the current administration. She added that increases in the manufacturing industry will rely on tax reform. 

The second panel focused on the shifting manufacturing landscape in the United States, including issues like addressing the need for skills training. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who has been very active in government efforts to support manufacturing, said there is a role for the federal government to play in manufacturing, adding that factory jobs are “they are good paying jobs that are important to our national security.”

The last panel focused on the global perspective and international trade policy. Ana Swanson, a reporter for the Washington Post, asked what could be done for United States competitiveness globally.

Ray Fogarty, director of the Chafee Center for International Business, said that the United States needs to focus on workforce diversity and company retention rates. Michelle Drew Rodriguez, a Manufacturing Leader for Deloitte, added that clear and concise policy on infrastructure and taxes will help increase foreign investments, therefore making the United States more competitive.

Mario Rebello, Lenovo’s managing director of government relations, agreed on the clarity needed in policies and added that their needs to be consistency in trade policies from state to state.

Click here for more on Thursday's event.

This blog post was written by AAM interns Erica Maddox, Megan Salrin, and Kami Demirag.