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Made in North America: Has NAFTA Made Us Competitive?

As key drivers of productivity and innovation, manufacturing companies play a pivotal role in North America's economy. Yet years of market turmoil have taken their toll on the sector, prompting industry players to wonder if globalization will ultimately compromise the productivity, competitiveness and profitability of domestic manufacturers.
To answer that question, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu member firms in Canada, Mexico and the United States surveyed 321 executives of leading North American manufacturing enterprises - and their responses may both surprise and hearten you. The survey was conducted in association with Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and The Manufacturing Institute to understand how manufacturing companies in North America are able to compete in a global economy, and the role and impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

This survey served as an initial step to help North American manufacturers better assess current strengths and options for future competitive strategies and tactics. Additionally, it touches on executives' perspectives regarding NAFTA and the impact of current trade integration policies between the United States, Canada and Mexico, revealing the issues and benefits as perceived by senior executives who lead many of North America's most significant manufacturing enterprises. Specifically we looked at:

     * The competitiveness of North American manufacturers
     * Expansion plans of North American manufacturers
     * The impact of NAFTA
     * Barriers to competitiveness
     * Promoting innovation and research and development (R&D)

Enhance your competitive position
Although sector fundamentals remain strong, the Made in North America survey also reinforces the need for manufacturers to become more competitive on a go-forward basis. To succeed in this effort, North America's manufacturers will have to take a holistic approach to their enterprises, bolstering capabilities across the value chain - including production, sourcing, R&D, distribution, human resources, financial management, sales and service, marketing and customer relationship management.

As survey results show, the barriers to competitiveness remain formidable, running the gamut from labor costs and government policies to raw materials costs and availability of skilled workers. Yet, North American executives are signaling that their competitive capabilities are sufficiently robust to overcome these challenges.

While much work lies ahead, the future of manufacturing in North America looks bright. Read the complete research findings, attached below, and learn what impact globalization has had on North American manufacturing productivity, competitiveness, and profitability.

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