Manufacturing is the key to economic success in the coming years in Germany and the United States, U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson told a business audience from both sides of the Atlantic on Friday.
U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson.
BerlinDelivering the opening address at the Global Business Dialogue in Berlin, Bryson echoed President Obama’s call for a renewed commitment to manufacturing, a sector that critics have already resigned to failure amid competition from lower-cost countries in Asia.
“We have a responsibility to make strategic investments in our businesses and our workers,” Bryson said. One way to boost manufacturing, he explained, is to give companies greater opportunities to export their products. His motto, he said, is “Build it here and sell it everywhere.”
Bryson noted that the United States and Germany have both made great strides in manufacturing in the past few years. “Our economy has added over half a million manufacturing jobs over just the past 26 months,” he said.
Manufacturing has helped both the United States and Germany recover from the 2008 financial crisis. “Already, Germany has recovered all of its decline in industrial production and the U.S. has recovered about 70 percent,” said Bryson, who is on his first trip to Europe as commerce secretary but lived in Berlin for a year in the 1960s.
Both countries are now exporting more than they did before the recession, Bryson said. “But we can’t let up. In the U.S., we remain focused on President Obama’s commitment to double U.S. exports by 2014.”
Of course, Germany and the United States don’t operate in isolation when it comes to manufacturing. Bryson noted that Germany is America’s fifth-largest trading partner, and has a direct investment in the United States of over $250 billion, the third-largest source of foreign direct investment in America.
But the United States has much to learn from Germany, particularly when it comes to education. “Education in science, technology, engineering and math is particularly important,” Bryson said. “This is an area where the U.S. can learn from Germany what really works.”
Bryson said that 13 percent of American students get so-called STEM degrees, compared to around 25 percent in Germany.
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