What Trump can do now to recharge U.S. manufacturing

The Trump economy continues to surprise many economists and naysayers.

Last week we learned the economy grew by 3.2 percent during the first quarter, well ahead of projections. The Labor Department will release its April jobs report on Friday.

Of course, President Trump deserves more accolades than he receives for his efforts to grow the manufacturing sector. During his first 26 months in office, manufacturers added 479,000 new jobs, more than doubling manufacturing job growth under President Barack Obama’s final two years in office.

But we can’t overlook the fact that America’s manufacturing sector has been hit by what many analysts are calling a “soft patch,” with March seeing no growth in the sector, which was actually good news after the two previous months of contraction. But, we can look ahead with confidence due to Trump’s commitment to America's manufacturing workers and opportunities ripe for action.

Trump very much needs the manufacturing sector to drive U.S. economic growth. Fortunately, he has another arrow in his quiver to help give U.S. manufacturing an advantage and it’s simply an update to a successful Reagan policy. He reportedly has on his desk and ready for action the Kigali Amendment. Trump should swiftly send it to the Senate for passage.

The Kigali Amendment is an international agreement that aims to reduce the use of certain ozone depleting substances used in air conditioning and refrigeration. This would help support America’s manufacturing base and halt the currently successful efforts of Chinese businesses to dump millions of dollars’ worth of cheap, inferior coolants and refrigerants into the U.S. marketplace.

It is an amendment to the Montreal Protocol championed by Ronald Reagan to support America’s worldwide leadership in heating and air conditioning, or HVAC. The industry is responsible for about 2.5 million jobs domestically and about two-thirds of a million manufacturing jobs.

The Kigali Amendment is the latest update of those accords. It was originally agreed to during the Obama administration, and went into effect earlier this year for countries who have already ratified it.

With one action, President Trump could support an American industry that provides good-paying manufacturing jobs, as well as halt Chinese firms from hurting our manufacturing sector by flooding our markets with the inferior products.

Despite flawed claims and criticisms about consumer cost impacts, the choice should be clear. This industry is primed for expansion and likely to do just that if Kigali gets sent to the Senate for ratification.


One study found that it would mean the creation of over 30,000 manufacturing jobs and another 100,000 or so related jobs in the next 10 years. It would also increase U.S. exports worldwide, by about $5 billion while cutting out all those dirty Chinese imports. And the balance of trade that the president worries about would be improved.

Mark Brady is a former US deputy assistant secretary of commerce and former director of international trade and investment at the National Governors Association.