The slow reemergence of American manufacturing has been touted by politicians on both sides of the aisle as an essential force in the recent economic recovery. But in many cases, the manufacturers driving production across the nation aren’t American at all. In fact, Honda recently announced that it built and shipped more cars from the U.S. than it imported here from Japan.
According to Honda executives, the company’s current status as an American exporting power wasn’t the intention when it set up shop on these shores 30 years ago. “We did not set out to be a net exporter,” says Rich Schostek, senior vice president of Honda North America. “What we did set out to do was become self-reliant in North America.” Just as General Motors has invested heavily in China, Honda adapted a “produce-where-you-sell” model as it expanded operations throughout the country. Last year, Honda’s 10 U.S. plants, staffed by approximately 28,000 American workers, produced 1.3 million cars, most of which were sold domestically. However, more than 100,000 vehicles were exported to developing markets throughout the world, a number that eclipsed the 88,500 cars imported by the U.S. from Japan.
To some, including President Obama, Honda serves as a prime example of a foreign company providing jobs rather than taking them away. But critics on both the right and left are worried companies like Honda are an exception rather than the rule and that American jobs could be at stake if foreign trade is encouraged any further. Then again, the state of industry in this country has been troubled for some time, and any capable job creator could be beneficial, regardless of their country of origin. What do you think?
- Do you consider the Hondas produced by American workers as foreign cars?
- Would our quality of life be affected if we strictly practiced buying American products?
Source: Howard Schneider, “Honda Becomes a U.S. Exporter,” The Washington Post, January 29, 2014. Photo by Ian Muttoo.