Mexico's Ambassador to US Highlights New Trade Agreement

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Feb 5, 2020 1:30:00 PM


Mexico's ambassador to the United States, Martha Bárcena, met with members of Associated Industries of Massachusetts on Friday to discuss the new US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, immigration and the economic relationship between the North American neighbors. Watch the video.

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council

2020 Will Be An Important Year for International Trade

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Jan 17, 2020 12:38:08 PM

The year 2020 is shaping up to be a big one for international trade - China, USMCA, Brexit, US-Europe trade, tariffs and more.  Here’s what AIM is following:


China is a critical source of components, raw materials, semi-finished and final products for many US companies.  China’s 1.4 billion people, many of whom are entering the middle class, are an attractive and growing market for US products and services.

The US-China trade relationship has been strained for nearly two years with tariffs, counter-tariffs and rhetoric dominating the news.  This week’s signing of a US-China Phase 1 trade deal represents progress, as the Chinese committed to $200 billion in purchases of US manufacturing, agriculture, energy and services.

China also promised stronger protection for intellectual property, trade secrets and more.  Tariffs remain in place.  Many experts question whether China will actually make all the US purchases to which it has committed.


Canada and Mexico purchase more US-made goods than the next 11 trading partner countries combined.

This critical trade agreement, which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is at the finish line.  The US House of Representatives, including six of nine Massachusetts House members, voted in December to pass USMCA.  The US Senate voted “yes” this week.

The President will sign the agreement this week, and Canada is expected to sign shortly (Mexico has already done so.)  The USMCA strengthens and modernizes NAFTA and sets new standards for environmental protections, labor and intellectual property.

BREXIT, US-UK and US-EU Trade Agreements

The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on January 31 but will remain in the EU customs union and single market until Dec. 31.  By that time the UK and EU will have negotiated a new bilateral trade agreement.

The US and UK are beginning the process of developing their own bilateral trade agreement.  The US is the UK’s largest single trading partner.

And the UK has long been a vital market for the US and for Massachusetts. In 2019, Massachusetts-UK trade totaled more than $4.3 billion.  The EU and US are also in talks to negotiate a bilateral agreement. 

The EU-US trade relationship, with 28 EU countries doing business with the US, is the largest in the world.    


The US began putting tariffs in place in 2018 on solar panels, washing machines, steel and aluminum. 

The levying of tariffs on additional products, from various countries, has continued for two years and is unlikely to stop.  At present the US tariffs nearly all imports from China, at levels ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent.

China has retaliated with its own tariffs.  This past fall, the US began to tariff products from Europe—cheeses, wines, whiskey, olives, airplanes and more—as a result of a WTO ruling that Europe unfairly subsidized Airbus (airplane) production.  What to watch: will the US increase some EU tariffs to 100 percent?  Will the US put tariffs on European autos?  Will China tariffs change significantly?   


The World Trade Organization, headquartered in Switzerland, with 164 member countries, helps regulate trade between countries and features a dispute resolution process that enforces adherence to trade agreements.

When the WTO finds that a member has suffered as a result of another country’s trade activities, the negatively affected country may issue retaliatory tariffs.  The US has won most of its WTO cases. 

However, the Trump administration believes the WTO must be overhauled and has blocked the appointment of new members to the appellate body that reviews cases.  With the appellate panel now essentially disbanded, there’s no official path to resolving global trade disputes.

Although imperfect, the WTO plays a vital role in ensuring stability and fairness in world trade.  One political leader said recently, “If the WTO did not exist, we’d need to invent it.”  WTO’s future is uncertain.

New Tech Regulations

The US Treasury Department recently issued regulations related to foreign investment and national security.  These take effect in mid-February and address concerns about investment from foreign entities in “U.S. businesses involved in critical technology, critical infrastructure, or sensitive personal data.”

More information may be found at

In addition, the US Department of Commerce has proposed a new Supply Chain Executive Order and proposed rule “to strengthen and secure the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain.”  This rule would establish regulations to “mitigate, prohibit and unwind” certain technology-related transactions.

US Manufacturing Trends

US manufacturing had a down year in 2019 according to multiple economic indicators.  Uncertainty around tariffs, increased costs of raw materials, a global economic slowdown and other factors affected business confidence and companies’ willingness to make capital investments.

However, some trade experts anticipate healthy growth in manufacturing in 2020.  Companies long dependent on China supply chains have been making adjustments and moving some production to countries not subject to US tariffs.  The monthly AIM Business Confidence Index measures several indicators, including manufacturer confidence, which saw an uptick in December.  


The Massachusetts Port Authority continues to be a significant economic driver.

Massport is adding new international gates at Logan Airport to manage the growing number of international travelers.  Airlines, particularly JetBlue and Delta, are making significant investments at Logan.

At the Port of Boston, Conley Terminal continues a four-year pattern of record-breaking container volume.  Flynn Cruiseport has seen an increase in the number of ships calling and passengers traveling.  And the Autoport in Charlestown processes more than 80,000 vehicles annually.

The Boston Harbor dredging project, funded by the federal government and the commonwealth, will enable new, larger container ships to utilize the Port of Boston by 2021.  Massport is investing in Port operations to increase efficiency.  More than 1600 companies across New England rely on the Port to connect to the global economy, and Massport hopes to entice more export and import firms to use the Port.    

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council

State Congressional Delegation Backs Trade Deal

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Dec 23, 2019 10:15:25 AM

A majority of Massachusetts members of the US House of Representatives voted last week to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement that has been strongly supported by AIM and other business groups.

Members of the Massachusetts delegation voting in favor included US Reps. Richard Neal, Stephen Lynch, Katherine Clark, William Keating, Seth Moulton and Lori Trahan. The US Senate is expected to take up USMCA in early 2020. 

The USMCA was negotiated by the Trump Administration to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). USMCA strengthens and modernizes some intellectual property rules, sets new digital economy standards, expands US manufacturers’ access to Canada and Mexico, ensures that US companies can sell their products duty-free into these markets, eliminates red tape at the border, and levels the playing field by raising standards, prohibiting anti-US discrimination, and strengthening enforcement. 

Canada and Mexico purchase more US-made goods than the next 11 trading partner countries combined. USMCA will help to preserve more than 2 million American manufacturing jobs - at least 15,000 of them in Massachusetts - that rely on trade with Canada and Mexico.

AIM and its 3,500 member employers commend those members of the Congressional delegation who voted for USMCA.

Topics: International Trade, U.S. Congress

Time to Pass the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Nov 19, 2019 9:00:00 AM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts and its 3,500 members today urged the United States Congress to approve the new USMCA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

international.flagssmallThe reason is simple - Canada and Mexico purchase more US-made goods than the next 11 trading partner countries combined. USMCA will help to preserve more than 2 million American manufacturing jobs - at least 15,000 of them in Massachusetts - that rely on trade with Canada and Mexico.

Time is short for Congress to act. The US House and Senate need to pass the USMCA before year-end.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Democrats have inched closer to supporting the deal. They have worked to iron out lingering concerns in weeks of talks with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. 

The USMCA was negotiated by the Trump Administration to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). USMCA strengthens and modernizes intellectual property rules, sets new digital economy standards, expands US manufacturers’ access to Canada and Mexico, ensures that US companies can sell their products duty-free into these markets, eliminates red tape at the border, and levels the playing field by raising standards, prohibiting anti-US discrimination, and strengthening enforcement. 

AIM is in contact with the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to encourage them to pass the USMCA.  Governor Charlie Baker calls the agreement “strong, fair and flexible.”  Among the many products that are traded between Massachusetts and Canada/Mexico are auto parts, medical devices, lab instruments, semiconductors, paper products and aerospace parts. Most of the manufacturing exports from Massachusetts going to Canada and Mexico are produced by small and medium-size businesses.

AIM urges employers to contact their members of Congress to emphasize how important the USMCA is to manufacturing companies in Massachusetts.   Use this link, shared by the National Association of Manufacturers.

Industry associations, individual companies and elected officials across the US encourage an immediate vote on USMCA.  And while the USMCA is serious business, check out this light-hearted take on why USMCA is so important.

Topics: International Trade, U.S. Congress

Three Companies Earn AIM Global Trade Awards

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Oct 24, 2019 2:00:00 PM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts announced the winners of the 24th annual AIM Global Trade Awards, which recognize Massachusetts companies and public agencies of all sizes that have demonstrated excellence in international business. The 2019 honorees represent both Massachusetts manufacturing and professional service industries and include: Crane Currency, Globalization Partners, and SMC Ltd.

CraneCurrency“From the more traditional manufacturing activities to our talent economy, Massachusetts companies are innovative global leaders; international trade is a pivotal aspect of the Commonwealth’s overall business community,” said John Regan, President and CEO of AIM. “We are delighted to honor the 2019 winners, who from innovative product development to best-in-class manufacturing make a true impact on global business. In a time when international trade is at the forefront of national and international conversation, we are proud to show support for the important role of global business in our economy.”

The three Global Trade Award winners will be honored during the AIM Global Trade Symposium & Awards Breakfast on Thursday, November 7 from 7:30-10:30am at Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy.  The event will feature keynote speaker Martha Sullivan, President and CEO of Sensata Technologies.  A lively panel discussion highlighting the perspectives of several global business leaders including Harriet Cross, UK Consul General in Boston and Professor Ravi Ramamurti, Director of the Center for Emerging Markets at Northeastern University, will follow the keynote. 

The AIM Global Trade Symposium & Awards is sponsored by Massport, The Provident Bank, MassMEP and M&T Bank.

Chairman’s Award: Crane Currency, Dalton & Boston

Founded in Massachusetts in 1801, Crane Currency is still headquartered in Massachusetts today. Crane Currency designs, manufactures, and prints high-quality and highly secure bank notes. The paper for all US currency is manufactured by Crane Currency’s 300 employees in Dalton.  The company has a long history of innovation and is known for its state-of-the-art security technology.  Crane Currency acquired a manufacturing facility in Sweden in 2002 and, most recently, built a state-of-the-art printing and technical center in Malta, where it produces bank notes for the central banks of over 50 countries.  Annemarie Watson is president of Crane Currency.

Diplomat’s Award: Globalization Partners, Boston

Globalization Partners, a global professional employer organization founded in Boston in 2011 by CEO Nicole Sahin, has grown rapidly in just eight years and now has regional hub offices in eight international locations: United Kingdom, Germany, United Arab Emirates, India, Shanghai, Singapore, Brazil, and Mexico. Approximately half of the company’s nearly 200 worldwide employees work in the Boston headquarters.  The services and technology platform developed by Globalization Partners enables companies to hire talent in more than 170 countries within days, without the need to set up costly international subsidiaries.  The company provides a cost-efficient solution for US businesses wanting to test new markets.

Ambassador’s Award: SMC, Ltd., Devens, MA

SMC Ltd. is a global contract manufacturer of single use, finished medical devices.  The company was founded in 1988 by Chetan N. Patel, a graduate of UMass Lowell who grew up in India. SMC has over 350 employees in Massachusetts and 2,000 employees worldwide.  More than half of the company’s clients are headquartered internationally and include well-known European pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies.  SMC, with support from MassDevelopment, recently invested in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Devens where the company does design, molding and assembly.  Its high-speed automation processes enabled the company to extend its product line to include drug delivery within devices.  Approximately one-third of product that is manufactured in Massachusetts goes to international markets.

The AIM International Business Council helps Massachusetts companies engage in international trade and expand their global business activities. Through seminars, referrals, and e-newsletters, the AIM International Business Council provides companies with the resources they need.  Visit

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council

Port of Boston Doubles Economic Impact

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Jun 13, 2019 9:41:54 AM

The economic impact of the Port of Boston has almost doubled since 2012 as the facilities serve as a gateway for increased global commerce both to and from Massachusetts, according to a report issued this morning.

The port, which is in the middle of $850 million infrastructure upgrade, generates $8.2 billion in economic activity and supports 66,000 jobs from its four major elements – Conley freight terminal, the Flynn Cruiseport, the Boston Autoport and fish/seafood processing. The economic footprint has grown from $4.6 billon seven years ago.

Conley.TerminalMassport unveiled the economic report by Martin Associates at an event this morning co-sponsored by Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

“A globally strong economy like the one we enjoy in Massachusetts demands a world-class port to facilitate international commerce,” said John R. Regan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

“Employers support continued investment in the Port of Boston not only because the facility generates billions in economic impact but also because it provides efficient access to overseas markets and entry for product demanded by Massachusetts consumers,”

More than 1,600 companies across the Commonwealth and New England, including many AIM members, rely on the Port to connect to the global economy. Massachusetts companies export $27 billion worth of goods and services annually while imports total $35.5 billion.

As a result, activity across the Port of Boston’s maritime facilities is booming:

  • Four years in a row of record-breaking container volume at Conley Terminal
  • Record-breaking ship calls and passenger volume at Flynn Cruiseport
  • Fully leased seafood processing space on the historic Boston Fish Pier and new developments being constructed on the Massport Marine Terminal
  • More than 80,000 vehicles processed at the Autoport in Charlestown

The Martin Associates study measured the local and regional economic impacts generated by 2018 maritime activity at Massport-owned facilities and private marine terminals and businesses within Boston Harbor. The 66,000 jobs include 9,000 direct positions, 5,400 of which are in the cargo area.

Among the AIM member companies that use the Port are Affordable Interior Systems, EMD Millipore, Gem Group, Horizon Beverage, Staples and United Liquors.

The largest portion of the infrastructure upgrade is a $350 million dredging project to allow larger cargo ships to navigate Boston Harbor. Massport officials tell The Boston Globe that the dredging project is 40 percent complete and that 4.6 million cubic yards have been removed from the harbor floor to deepen the main channel.

AIM has worked closely with Massport to promote international trade and investment.

The AIM International Business Council has engaged users and managers of the Port of Boston as speakers at the annual Internal Business Symposium. AIM has also written letters of support to the US Department of Transportation for the harbor dredging project, for new and enhanced truck routes for cargo in the Seaport area, and for investment to increase Conley Terminal’s container storage facilities. 

“Assets like Massport do not happen by accident, they are a choice, an investment, they are well led and have a high customer focus and critical mission,” Regan said.

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council, Massport

Employer Confidence Falls in May

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jun 4, 2019 8:30:00 AM

Employer confidence weakened in Massachusetts during May amid renewed trade tensions and concerns among companies about increased operating costs from paid family leave and other government mandates.

BCI.May.2019The outlook among business leaders has moved in a narrow, overall optimistic, range for much of 2019.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index (BCI) lost 3.2 points last month to 57.1, its lowest level since October 2016. The Index has declined 9.5 points since May 2018.

All of the constituent indicators that make up the BCI weakened during May with the largest drop coming in employer views of conditions six months from now.

The erosion of confidence during the past 12 months has been driven largely by caution about the national economy and concern among manufacturing companies.

“The Business Confidence Index continues to reflect the Goldilocks economy in which we find ourselves – US GDP growth is expected to remain at a modest level of 2 to 3 percent and there is not much inflation or deflation. There are both encouraging signs and red flags,” said Raymond G. Torto, Chair of AIM's Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Several employers participating in the survey said regulatory costs have become a significant concern.

“The cost to operate has increased dramatically - higher wages, benefit costs, supply costs and cost of compliance with all the new regulations coming out of State House,” one employer wrote.

The AIM Index, based on a survey of Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative. The Index reached its historic high of 68.5 on two occasions in 1997-98, and its all-time low of 33.3 in February 2009.

The Index has remained above 50 since October 2013.

Constituent Indicators

The constituent indicators showed a broad-based retrenchment during May.

The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the commonwealth fell 2.3 points to 60.9, while the US Index shed 3.3 points to 55.0. The Massachusetts reading has declined 9.1 points during the past 12 months and the US reading has dropped 14.3 points during the same period.

The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, tumbled 4.5 points to 56.0. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, lost 1.8 points to 58.2, 8.4 points lower than a year ago.

The Employment Index declined 1.2 points for the month and 5.1 percent for 12 months. Analysts say employers continue to struggle to find qualified workers in a state economy with a 2.9 percent jobless rate.

Non-manufacturers (60.0) were more confident than manufacturers (54.7). Small companies (58.4) were more bullish than large (55.0) or medium-sized companies (57.6), a reversal of the usual pattern. Companies in Eastern Massachusetts (59.3) continued to be far more optimistic than those in the west (54.0).

Elmore Alexander, Retired Dean of the Ricciardi College of Business at Bridgewater State University and a BEA member, said Massachusetts employers are reflecting general concerns about tepid national economic growth, renewed geopolitical tensions and slowing corporate spending.

“Few see an imminent recession, but most experts believe US economic growth will slow from 3 percent last year to 2.1 percent this year to 1.9 percent in 2020,” Alexander said.

Rising Costs

AIM President and CEO John R. Regan, also BEA member, said the national economic uncertainty comes at a time when Massachusetts employers are struggling with a series of expensive new employment law mandates such as the state’s $1 billion paid family and medical leave program.

“AIM has joined Raise Up Massachusetts and other groups in asking the Baker Administration to delay the scheduled July 1 start of paid leave by three months to provide employers time to consider how much of the cost they will share with workers and whether they wish to opt out of the state system. The delay is necessary to ensure a smooth rollout of this new entitlement,” Regan said.

Regan joined the BEA after being named President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

Topics: International Trade, AIM Business Confidence Index, Massachusetts economy

Video Blog | Newburyport Apparel Company Maintains Global Outlook

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Nov 26, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Bennett & Co., winner of a 2018 AIM Global Trade Award, is one of the leading designers and manufacturers for women’s intimate apparel, sleepwear and lingerie worldwide. Offices located in Newburyport are home to all of Bennett & Co.’s design, research and development efforts. Founder and CEO Jacalyn Bennett owns her manufacturing facility in Guangzhou, China, from which completed products are sent around the world on behalf of Bennett’s brand-name retail clients. Bennett & Co.’s 60,000 products and styles are produced with a minimal environmental footprint.

Topics: International Trade, Massachusetts employers, AIM International Business Council

Video Blog | John Hancock Maintains Global View

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Nov 19, 2018 8:00:00 AM

John Hancock, winner of a 2018 AIM Global Trade Award, is both a major Massachusetts employer and an ambassador for the commonwealth globally.

Owned by Canadian multinational insurance company Manulife, John Hancock offers a broad range of financial products to individuals and corporations.  Equally important, as the lead sponsor of the Boston Marathon, John Hancock plays a major role in bringing global elite athletes and the world’s attention to Massachusetts each April. 

Topics: International Trade, Massachusetts employers, AIM International Business Council

Video Blog | Universal Plastics Brings Global Growth Back Home

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Nov 13, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Universal Plastics of Holyoke, winner of the 2018 Associated Industries of Massachusetts Global Trade Award,  manufactures custom thermoformed plastic parts and manages global supply chains for some of its aerospace and medical customers.  Universal Plastics is also “re-shoring,” or bringing back some production from overseas.  The company has five manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and 300 employees in Massachusetts. Watch their story, below.


Topics: International Trade, Massachusetts employers, Massachusetts Manufacturing

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