Reposted from The Bulletin, the newsletter for the PMA
Chinese cement was used to construct half of American home foundations prior to the recession. Another glaring example of how the life of our economic freedom –manufacturing — is bleeding out to other countries.
Relying on other counties – some hostile – for key links in our manufacturing chain will be especially dangerous during natural disasters and terrorist attacks, according to a new study by former Pennsylvania Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security Col. Robert B. Stephan (USAF Retired).
Commissioned by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, ‘The U.S. Too Dependent on Foreign Suppliers in Crises’ is the first comprehensive analysis of America’s growing reliance on global suppliers, some of which might not meet demand quickly – or at all — in emergencies.
Governor Ridge and Col. Stephan were in Harrisburg last week to discuss the study during an event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Steel Alliance.
“American’s national security and prosperity are inseparable,” Ridge said. “The epicenter of maintaining both is manufacturing. Revitalizing America’s domestic manufacturing capacity must become a clear and urgent national priority at all levels of government and among industry leaders.”
The United States relies on foreign suppliers for everything from steel, cement, batteries, and critical high-technology components to everyday medical supplies such as antibiotics and penicillin. The risks include not having access to needed materials and products, delayed delivery times, and the poor quality of some imported products. A shoddy infrastructure only compounds the problems.
The report recommends restoring the nation’s internal capacity to address emergencies — including revitalized manufacturing, investment in America’s infrastructure using U.S.-made materials, strengthened public-private collaboration, and enforcement of trade laws.
“Having a dominant manufacturing in certain areas is critical to our safety and well being moving into the 21st century risk environment,” Col. Stephan said.
Below is a snapshot of our manufacturing fall-off just in the high-tech arena.
“We have to assess the risks associated in the manufacturing sector to see how to end the slide,” Ridge said. “We can no longer depend on external sources.”
The report recommends taking a two-track approach to reduce vulnerabilities and to build the capacity to respond and recover quickly and efficiently in the aftermath of a catastrophic disaster. Some recommendations include:
- Develop a plan to make the restoration of a strong American manufacturing sector a key component of both national and economic security strategies.
- Reinvest in America’s infrastructure, using U.S.-made materials.
- Incentivize the revitalization of American manufacturing, including the use of domestic-content preferences that maximize the power of federal procurement funds.
- Enforce trade laws to ensure a level playing field for U.S manufacturers and their workers facing unfair competition.
- Invest in the American workforce to ensure we have the trained workers needed to rebuild our infrastructure and work in a larger, more modern manufacturing sector.
“The nation’s worn out infrastructure is the soft underbelly that provides an inviting target for attacks that can have a widespread, devastating impact,” said Stephan. “Hardening our critical infrastructure is key to preventing and mitigating disastrous events such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters concerning power plants, pipelines, and transportation systems.”
The full report is available online at: http://americanmanufacturing.org/homeland