KIAWAH ISLAND, SC-U.S. manufacturers and government policy makers must develop unique strategies to contend with unprecedented global competition that is hurting U.S. businesses and costing jobs an industry leader told a group of executives from an aluminum association.

Richard E. Dauch, chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers, told the Annual Meeting of The Aluminum Association that since July 2000 the United States has lost 3.3 million jobs and 2.8 million of them have been in manufacturing.

"Manufacturing has been the catalyst and contributor that enabled the United States to become the world's standard bearer for freedom and democracy," Dauch says. "Manufacturing is a mainstay of the middle class of our society. Make no mistake, a threat to U.S. manufacturing is a threat to our standard of living, our national security and our very quality of life."

Dauch says the exodus of manufacturing jobs is a result of globalization. He adds that it is essential that manufacturers accept the challenge to compete, make full use of their human assets and invest in new technologies and research and development. "Be proactive, not reactive," he says. "Remember, the winning edge comes with being first to market with the best new ideas and products that have been executed with precision."

Dauch called upon government to rein in escalating costs that burden manufacturers. Specifically, he called for tax policies that encourage investment, school reform to train qualified workers, elimination of artificial trade barriers, regulatory reform, a sensible energy policy, and an end to out-of-control litigation.

"We are facing monumental challenges," Dauch says. "Most Americans do not fully understand how vital manufacturing is to our country. We must not lose our leadership in manufacturing because of ignorance, ambivalence or a lack of an action plan."