China – Manufacturing Leader?

The U.S. won the coveted title of “worldwide leader in manufacturing output” last year, say researchers. We may even win this year. But a new report by IHS Global Insight, a U.S.-based economic consulting firm, shows China is slated to take the crown by 2011.

The report shows the value of goods produced by China’s factories reached about $1.6 trillion last year, compared to $1.7 trillion by the United States. Researchers predict China’s low wages and high population will help the country close the gap as early as next year.

Meanwhile, the push for Washington to reverse the decline and address the relinquishment of its 110-year crown as world factory production leader continues. The CEO of The Dow Chemical Company is the latest to join the ranks in a call for a national industrial policy. In an op-ed published in USA Today, Andrew N. Liveris calls for a “manufacturing renaissance.”

“Since 1990,” he writes, “the U.S. has lost 3 million manufacturing jobs – almost 20 percent. With these jobs went American leadership in many sectors, new research and development and too often, whole communities. These losses made America far more vulnerable to the current recession… To rejuvenate the economic base, allow industry to compete successfully again and re-grow jobs, the U.S. should launch an ‘advanced manufacturing plan.’”

Liveris calls for a plan that includes investments in new infrastructure, cutting edge research and development, investments in education and skills training, and a “pro-trade” policy that creates a level playing field.

To read more of his article, click here.