US President-elect Donald Trump has enlisted chemical engineer and Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris to lead a new manufacturing council set to “bring industry back to America”.
IChemE Fellow Liveris seems an obvious choice given both he and Trump have voiced concerns on the loss of manufacturing jobs abroad and pointed to the need for more protectionist policies on trade.
Speaking together at a campaign-style rally in Michigan, Liveris spoke of Dow Chemical’s plans to open a new R&D centre in the state, creating 100 jobs.
“This decision is because of this man and these policies,” Liveris said. “I tingle with pride listening to you.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump said the details of the manufacturing panel – referred to as the American Manufacturing Council – will be made available next week when Liveris announces more members.
“We’re finding ways to bring industry back to America,” Trump said. ”Nobody can do it like Andrew.”
“We’re going to put you all to work,” Liveris told the crowd. ”We’ve got ideas and we’ve got plans.”
Trump has voiced strong concerns that free trade agreements are costing US jobs – threatening to cancel them unless they are renegotiated – and pledged to create another 25m jobs in the coming decade. In 2011, Liveris argued in his book Make it in America the need to re-invent the country’s manufacturing base before it’s too late.
Liveris is also on record questioning policies on free trade. In a video interview with The Chemical Engineer in 2013 (below), he asked about the export of shale gas: “How much should stay domestic, how much should be allowed to be exported?”
Liveris said at the time that politicians need to think about which sectors can create jobs and economic growth.
“I would tell you that value-add, technology-rich, intellectual property-thick industries are great jobs,” he said. “One step of value-add is hardly enough jobs. Let’s go all the way to making cosmetics, to ceiling tiles, to floor coverings, to automotive parts, to aerospace parts, to water filtration, to medical devices. All of that by closing the value chain between raw material and finished goods.”
Discussing the themes of his book with The Chemical Engineer in 2011, Liveris discussed his concerns about how the loss of manufacturing not only eliminates jobs in construction, operations, packaging and administration but also R&D.
“We need manufacturing. If you don’t have a manufacturing economy, you will lose two things. Firstly, the job multiplier of manufacturing. It exceeds that of any other sector. It can create 5–8 times the number of direct manufacturing jobs,” he said.
“There is also innovation linkage. If you lose manufacturing overseas, eventually you will offshore the research institutions and the university pipeline that goes with that sector.”
Liveris’ position advising Trump appears to echo a similar post he held under Barack Obama as co-chair of the administration’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. Speaking at a Fortune Brainstorm-E conference in May he said Obama’s administration has been tough on business.
“We’ve had regulatory burden like no other administration we have seen for decades,” he said.
It appears Liveris and fellow business leaders are set for an easier time with Trump who has pledged to “reform the entire regulatory code to ensure that we keep jobs and wealth in America”.
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