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What’s the More Likely Road to US Manufacturing Growth – Re-shoring or Exporting?

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

There’s been a lot of talk from the Obama administration about increasing exports as a way of expanding manufacturing in the US. While tax and tariff relief, or some other programs may help our exports, you can’t force someone to buy your products. Saying you want exports to double and actually doing it are not the same thing. But exports are not the only way to boost manufacturing. Re-shoring can have the same impact on manufacturing output without the anguish of finding global customers. Parts that are already in production, perhaps moved in the past from the US to another country, can be re-shored at the stroke of a pen. The ease of communications, design collaboration, problem resolution, more certain transportation, capacity availability, competitive pricing, and other factors all favor re-shoring. With the rising costs of labor in foreign production areas and the increasing costs of transportation and quality, re-shoring can be a win-win for all parties. This is becoming a more common topic of blogs and editorials and appears to be gaining momentum in practical efforts to bring manufactures and supplies together in “re-shoring purchasing fairs“.

There are generally many ways to achieve a goal, most of which can be applied at the same time. The government should be pushing re-shoring just as hard as it’s pushing exporting. The end result may be the same, and maybe even bigger and quicker, if re-shoring gets the attention it deserves.

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