Globalization an opportunity.

Position:Industry outlook 2009

Thomas Edison, the great inventor, has declared, "Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident. They came by work." That motivational quotient is especially important in times of economic unrest. With that in mind, the editors of Tooling & Production asked a range of manufacturing leaders about the key issues of 2009, with a specific question for each.

Q: You've held executive positions with companies such as Textron, TRW, and Milacron Inc, and have done business in China and 16 other countries. Do the benefits of globalization outweigh the concerns?

One of the questions Bob Simpson, newly named president of AMT-The Association for Manufacturing Technology, frequently fields is whether the benefits of globalization outweigh the concerns when it comes to manufacturing.

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Simpson's answer is an emphatic one: yes.

"The positive points for manufacturing more than offset any opposing arguments," he said. "Since the 1980s, U.S. demand has surpassed the country's production capacity, stimulating an increase of imports to satisfy U.S. consumption. Therefore, globalization in manufacturing has served to greatly enhance the quality of life for Americans as well as most individuals across the globe."

The loudest objection to globalization, he said, comes because of the North American jobs that have gone overseas. The point Simpson makes is that free trade agreements and the shifts in production to offshore outsourcing for labor-intensive work did not seriously affect jobs in America.

"In the early 1980s, America saw imports play a significant part in our general consumption of goods," he said. "Since then, valued added by U.S. manufacturers has steadily climbed while employment in...

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