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Made in America, Made for the World

Can U.S. firms--and workers--still make things here at home?

For the past six weeks, ABC News has been examining this question in its “Made in America” series. This past week, they visited a group of small “Manufacturing All Stars” across the country, including Annin Flagmakers outside the Columbus metro, Channel Craft Toys in greater Pittsburgh, and Nordic Ware, a family owned kitchenware manufacturer in Minneapolis.

What did they learn? That small American manufacturers can still serve American demand because they compete on quality.

But it is not enough to make products in America for American consumers. The real benefit to the U.S. will come if we can compete internationally on high-value, “made in America” products that require intensive innovation in design and production, deliver a long-term payoff in jobs, wages, investment, and productivity and drive the innovative cycle of production that leads to further breakthroughs.

The good news is we do compete at the high end. As we found in our Export Nation report last year, the U.S. is competitive on a range of advanced goods such as aircraft, spacecraft, electrical machinery, precision surgical instruments and high quality pharmaceutical products.

And the markets for these advanced “made in America” goods are enormous given the rapid urbanization and industrialization of rising nations. As Emilia Istrate highlighted yesterday, the BIC countries--Brazil, India and China--are growing faster than previous projections, as their combined GDP eclipsed the United States for the first time in 2009.

In fact, U.S. manufacturers that export are already seeing a boon from global demand this quarter, fueling growth in the goods-producing sector four times that of the economy as a whole.

Urbanization and the rise in global demand are the signature trends of this young century. The message to our country: It is time to go beyond “made in America,” to “made for the world.”