Donald Trump made a lot of promises on the campaign trail ahead of the 2016 election. Among them: A pledge to bring back or strengthen U.S. manufacturing. While stumping in Michigan in 2016, then-candidate Trump said, in part:
We’re going to start making things again ... We’re going to have tremendous trade deals … We will renegotiate NAFTA and if we don’t get the deal we want we’ll make a much better deal.
Recalling promises like that and others, Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), told Yahoo Finance, “When this administration came into office they promised comprehensive tax reform, they promised regulatory certainty. And they promised to level the playing field for manufacturers and United States against our competitors.”
The Trump tax plan, passed in 2017, accomplished its aim of stimulating investment and job growth, Timmons said. While less tangible and arguably more suspect, he also noted that the Trump administration provided the desired regulatory certainty. “And as a result,” he said, “We have taken it upon ourselves as manufacturers to say, ‘We will now be responsible for making sure that we have cleaner air and cleaner water and a healthier environment.’”
Then of course there are the two Goliath trade deals that have become a reality in the last 24 hours. On the phase one U.S.-China deal, Timmons admitted he doesn’t fully support some of the language in the deal but lauds the president for getting “the attention of the Chinese like nobody ever has.”
As for the USMCA, Timmons has further praise for the administration. “They didn't kill NAFTA, which would have been devastating to two million manufacturing workers in this country, which is why we spoke up two years ago, three years ago to say, ‘Please don't do that,’ but reform it, modernize it, bringing it into into the 21st century.”
[Read more: Senate passes USMCA]
Timmons also noted the raw number of manufacturing jobs, central to Trump’s campaign promises, gained since taking office. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics last month saw a 4% uptick when compared to Trump’s first full month in office. It continues a general trend that began with the bottoming out of the industry in January of 2010 as seen in this chart from the BLS:
Just how these new trade deals will impact that number going forward remains to be seen. One thing is for certain though — there are a raft of new campaign promises coming from Trump.