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Top Takes on Manufacturing, Politics and Policy
March 11, 2021 – SHARE Facebook Twitter

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Top Headlines

NAM Helps Avert Compliance Crisis

Manufacturers across many sectors were surprised in recent weeks by a ban on products containing a chemical called PIP (3:1), slated to go into effect after March 8, 2021. Due to the incredibly short compliance window and because PIP has not been regulated elsewhere in the world, it is a major challenge even to identify its potential presence in supply chains.

The sudden ban could have caused significant disruption in the manufacturing industry and snarled the economic recovery, NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Rachel Jones tells us. Here’s what you need to know.

Why it matters:  While there is no PIP chemical manufacturing in the United States, it can be found in a broad array of components that are used in electronics; robotics and manufacturing equipment; gaskets, clamps, tubes, harnesses, cables and casings; and in many other applications for flame retardant purposes. The ban would have a serious impact on manufacturers in the United States, forcing them to scrutinize every component of their supply chains for PIP, rework manufacturing processes and find new materials in an impossibly short timeframe.

The COVID-19 angle: Many of the products that would be impacted by this rule are being used to conduct research into COVID-19, whether that involves an examination of COVID-19 variants or developing, producing, storing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines. If this rule goes forward without being fixed, some of these products could become unavailable at a time when they are needed most.

What we did: The consensus from some experts was that changing the Biden EPA’s approach on this matter was a futile effort. But the NAM pressed forward and asked the EPA to issue a “no action assurance” for downstream manufacturers until the PIP rule can be amended to include a reasonable compliance timeframe. At the same time, the NAM moved forward in court to preserve relief options and to ensure that manufacturers affected by the rule can be made whole.

The results: After the NAM’s intervention, the EPA announced a 180-day “No Action Assurance” and opened a new 60-day comment docket to reexamine the rule. The NAM will continue to work with the EPA to find a reasonable approach that supports manufacturers and upholds critical standards.

The last word: Jones says, “When manufacturers are willing to speak up on challenging issues, we can solve complex problems. I have zero doubt that EPA’s extraordinary action was in response to our work with many NAM members and collaborative solutions-focused advocacy. While we celebrate this important interim victory, it is only a 180-day window of relief and manufacturers need more time.”

NAM in the news: Bloomberg (subscription) quotes Jones on this topic.   

This publication is a first look at breaking news, not the last word on anything. For the Official NAM Position on any given policy, please contact the staff leadership.

Consumer Prices Rise

Prices rose for U.S. consumers in February, according to CNBC.

The numbers: “The Labor Department said on Wednesday its consumer price index increased 0.4% last month after rising 0.3% in January. In the 12 months through February, the CPI gained 1.7%, the largest rise since February 2020, after climbing 1.4% in the 12 months through January.”

Behind the numbers: Most of the increase in prices was fueled by a rise in the cost of gasoline. According to the Labor Department, gas prices rose 6.4% in February. Food prices increased by 0.2%, while the core CPI—which excludes food and energy components—increased by 0.1%. The overall increase was largely in line with economists’ expectations.

The NAM says: NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray commented on this data, saying, “Overall, consumer prices have stabilized in recent months, particularly at the core level, despite the increase in costs seen in the top-line figure. Manufacturers continue to cite rising raw material costs as a concern, so it will be interesting to see how this will impact consumer prices moving forward, at least in the short term.”

Study Promotes Emphasizing Vaccine Acceptance

A new study suggests that the best way to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine is to emphasize that other people are getting one, according to MIT Sloan professors Sinan Aral and Dean Eckles.

What they studied: The authors of the study examined whether individuals would increase their preventative health behaviors—like getting vaccinated—if the people they interacted with did so (and even if those interactions were online). Basically, if you heard that many people in your orbit have been vaccinated, would you be more interested in being vaccinated, too?

What they learned: “While public health officials and the media have been emphasizing the potential negative impact of vaccine hesitancy, our study found that emphasizing the overwhelming vaccine acceptance expressed by most people is a better way to get those who are unsure to accept COVID-19 vaccines,” said Aral, who is the director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.

Our take: Makes sense to us! The NAM and The Manufacturing Institute’s vaccine awareness project, This Is Our Shot, relies on the same positive social effects of publicly announcing you got vaccinated. Manufacturing workers can use the hashtag #ThisIsOurShot to share photos, and yellow and red ribbons will soon be distributed to help everyone share that they’ve gotten the shot—and to encourage those around us to do so as well. If you’re interested in a pre-order of the yellow and red ribbon pins, email the NAM here. But that’s only one of the project’s many useful tools; you’ll find much more here.

President Biden Buys More J&J Vaccine

President Joe Biden has said that his administration will purchase an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to CNBC.

Where we are: “J&J currently has a deal with the U.S. government to provide 100 million doses by the end of June. The federal government shipped out nearly 3.9 million doses of the single-shot vaccine last week and says it plans to distribute 16 million more by the end of this month.”

Where we’re headed: The new deal will significantly increase the availability of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, and because the vaccine only requires one shot to be effective—as opposed to vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which each require a two-dose regimen—it will be especially helpful in communities where scheduling a follow-up shot would otherwise be challenging or problematic. The Biden administration also recently announced that pharmaceutical company Merck would be teaming up with J&J to help produce the company’s vaccine.

Across the pond: Meanwhile, countries in Europe are expected to receive an additional 4 million vaccine doses from Pfizer this month, according to Reuters. The European Commission announced the deal, which will help to tackle virus hotspots in Europe at a time when infections and hospitalizations have risen in some areas.

And in more good vaccine news: Today, Pfizer/BioNTech says that its COVID-19 vaccine is “94% effective in preventing asymptomatic infections, meaning the vaccine could significantly reduce transmission,” according to Reuters.

Last but not least: Eli Lilly has announced that its combination antibody therapy cut serious illness and death by 87% in a new study of high-risk COVID-19 patients, according to Reuters. The results are an extremely positive sign in our ability to respond to the virus beyond vaccinations.

Industry Headlines
NAM News
  • Bloomberg (subscription) reports on NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons’ upcoming testimony before the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Politico and Reuters cite the NAM’s opposition to the PRO Act.
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