Why “Made in the U.S.A.” Is Coming Back Strong

A new Council on Competitiveness study finds that the United States' embrace of advanced manufacturing technologies is helping to improve its global standing as a manufacturing center. The country is expected to be at the top of the group's Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index by 2020.

“Imports” has been a  buzzword in manufacturing in recent years, with countries like China and Germany long giving American manufacturers fits.

A new study from the Council on Competitiveness, however, suggests that the United States might be due for a hot streak. The 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, released last month by the council, in tandem with Deloitte, indicates that the United States’ investments in manufacturing could put the country at the top of the index by 2020.

“Among the advanced economies that are investing heavily in talent and technology, the United States has emerged as a clear leader, improving its overall competitiveness going forward,” the study states.

Technology is expected to be a key driver of growth. CEOs who responded to the study suggest that predictive analytics would become the most important technology trend for both the United States and China in the future, while European CEOs would be likely to embrace smart factories. In contrast to a recent study highlighting the importance of robotics and automation in supply chains, advanced robotics was a less-important trend in the manufacturing space, according to the Council on Competitiveness study.

It’s not just the U.S. that’s improving its global manufacturing clout. The study notes that North America as a whole (U.S., Canada, and Mexico) was becoming a major center of manufacturing, joining with the Asia-Pacific region (China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and India) as the two major power centers of manufacturing growth.

Elsewhere in Asia, a group of smaller countries nicknamed the “Mighty Five”—Malaysia, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam—have the potential to achieve China’s manufacturing level in the coming years.

On the other hand, the once-surging BRIC group—Brazil, Russia, India, and China, each of which had seen similar growth patterns—is largely struggling to match their reputation. Of the four countries, just China is holding its own in maintaining its manufacturing clout, the study finds.

Ultimately, though, the Council on Competitiveness suggests that the study’s most impressive finding was the shifting image of American manufacturing.

“Made in the USA is making a big comeback,” council president and CEO Deborah L. Wince-Smith said in a news release. “Contrary to the view that manufacturing is dirty, dumb, dangerous and disappearing, our study points to a manufacturing future characterized by innovation-driven growth. Manufacturing is sustainable, smart, safe and surging—and America will lead the world in this transformation.”

To take a deeper dive into the study, check out the full results on the Deloitte website.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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