Nike president & CEO Mark Parker greets President Obama

Nike president & CEO Mark Parker greets President Obama

Sporting goods giant Nike Inc has pledged to expand its advanced manufacturing operations in the US – with the creation of around 10,000 domestic jobs – if "fast-track" powers are passed and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is finalised.

In a promise made on Friday (8 May) to coincide with a visit by President Barack Obama to its world headquarters at Beaverton, Oregon, the company said that as well as new US jobs in manufacturing and engineering, another 40,000 jobs could also be created across its supply chain over the next decade.

"The future of Nike and this country depend not only on what we make, but how we make it," said Nike Inc president and CEO Mark Parker. "And we want to get to the future faster."

Congress is currently pushing for the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) "fast-tracking" negotiating procedure for trade agreements – which would, in turn, help the Obama Administration to finalise the TPP pact. Some believe this could happen by early next year.

The 12-country trade and investment deal is being negotiated by the US and Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

If TPP is passed, it could eliminate duties on apparel and footwear imports from Vietnam and Malaysia to the US.

Duties collected on footwear from TPP countries was up 24% in 2014, according to the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA) – and Nike says savings on footwear tariffs would free up capital to invest in a new advanced manufacturing model and a domestic supply chain to support US based manufacturing.

"Nike has always led the way in product innovation, and now we will be able to accelerate our investments to continue to drive manufacturing innovation," Parker added.

The company says US manufacturing would allow it to deliver product faster to market, create innovative performance footwear, provide customised solutions for consumers, and advance sustainability goals.

Nike already employs 26,000 people in the US, including more than 8,500 in Oregon. Its domestic manufacturing footprint includes footwear air sole manufacturing in Oregon and Missouri.

Speaking to Nike workers, President Obama described TPP as "the highest-standard, most progressive trade deal in history. It’s got strong, enforceable provisions for workers, preventing things like child labour. It’s got strong, enforceable provisions on the environment.

"Under this agreement, Vietnam would actually, for the first time, have to raise its labour standards. It would have to set a minimum wage. It would have to pass safe workplace laws to protect its workers. It would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions – for the very first time. That would make a difference.

"That helps to level the playing field and it would be good for the workers in Vietnam, even as it helps make sure that they’re not undercutting competition here in the United States."

He added the TPP trade agreement would "open the doors to the higher-skill, higher-wage jobs of the future" – and that "outsourcing is already giving way to insourcing. Companies are starting to move back here to do more advanced manufacturing, and this is a trend we expect to continue. This trade deal would help that."