OFII Testifies Against Proposed Tariffs on Autos

July 19, 2018

Earlier today, Clinton Blair, OFII's vice president for public policy and government affairs, testified before the U.S. Department of Commerce's panel into whether the importation of automobiles and automotive parts poses a risk to U.S. national security.  Here are his remarks:


Good afternoon - My name is Clinton Blair, and I am Vice President of Government Affairs at the Organization for International Investment – commonly known as OFII. OFII members are among the largest international companies with operations in the United States. That includes most of the international auto manufacturers and many of the leading auto parts manufacturing companies.

Most OFII member companies are in the manufacturing sector, in line with overall FDI in the United States. While more than 60 percent of all international companies in the United States have fewer than 1,000 U.S. employees, OFII members each employ, on average, more than 12,000 Americans.

OFII’s member companies are globally-headquartered in countries largely considered to be America’s long-time allies: The United Kingdom, France, Canada, Japan, Germany, and South Korea.

Not only do these companies make the U.S. economy more resilient, they ensure nations all over the globe now have a stake in America’s economic success. On behalf of our 209-member companies, I am pleased to be here to explain why the proposed national security tariffs are unnecessary and misguided.

Given the national security pretext of what seems to be the Administration’s desire to impose bygone industrial policy – I would request your full attention to the following:

“It was a struggle…. As soon as I got accepted into the program I saw kind of a light at the end of the tunnel. Now I can’t wait to get to back to work and get my hands dirty.”

Those are the words of an aircraft electrician who defended this country’s national security through a 20-year Air Force career that included nine tours in Asia. He is describing the challenges he faced in transitioning into civilian life – in finding a job in the country that he spent decades defending overseas.

I’d like to share another one with you – this from a V-22 Osprey mechanic – a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps:

“When I left the military, I didn’t really have a mission anymore, I was on my own. Trying to fit in, trying to figure out where I was and what my purpose was again…. The program has been pretty awesome, finding something that actually helps veterans is number one in my book. My future is now clear and I am going to keep expanding my horizons with this company and see where the road takes me.”

The program these American Heroes are describing was developed by Jaguar Land Rover North America through its Veterans Careers Program. Further, Mercedes-Benz was the first luxury automotive manufacturer to partner with the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Veterans Affairs to offer a Registered Apprenticeship Program.

Ironically, on the same day that President Trump and his daughter unveiled their “Pledge to America’s Workers” initiative, intended to provide “new opportunities for students and workers … through apprenticeships and work-based learning,” the Commerce Department is holding a hearing to determine whether international automakers – which have a long track-record of providing world-class workforce training programs – are a threat to U.S. national security.

For example, Toyota developed the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program, designed to provide both classroom instruction and paid, hands-on experience at world-class manufacturing facilities. Students in this program can graduate debt-free from the income they earn through the program, earning an Associate’s in Advanced Manufacturing degree.

Likewise, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing in Montgomery, Alabama, partners with Trenholm State Community College to run a six-month maintenance apprenticeship program that includes both classroom and hands-on training.

I could provide you with additional examples, but suffice it to say, invoking U.S. national security to impose bygone industrial policies intended to hamper the ability of these companies to benefit the U.S. economy is an affront to their economic contributions and support of America’s workforce, including veterans and transitioning military.

Thank you for your time and I’d be happy to answer your questions.