Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW)
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China, Germany, Australia and other countries are spending trillions of dollars to boost their high-technology manufacturing industries, putting pressure on rival industries in the U.S. where government support has been limited, the top executive of Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) said Thursday.
"Countries compete like companies now," said Andrew Liveris, speaking at a conference in Santa Barbara, Calif., sponsored by The Wall Street Journal. He added that governments, particularly in Asia, are paying up in an effort to create more high-paying jobs and boost their economies.
The U.S. government must catch up with high-level investments to retain industries that were developed in the U.S., said Liveris, who has written a book about U.S. manufacturing policy titled, "Make it in America: The Case for Re-Inventing the Economy."
Already, a steady stream of suppliers to various U.S. industries has been migrating away to countries that offer more generous incentives, creating attrition for U.S. industry, he said.
"If we do not do anything, the unintended consequence is that we will outsource eventually innovation, which would be death by 1,000 cuts," said Liveris, a native Australian who has been chief executive of Midland, Mich.-based Dow since 2004.
Liveris said that government policies aimed at building up profitable industries don't require excessive bureaucracy, or "big government."
"You should have a smart government, an efficient government," he said. "Why are we working on 10% of the problem all the time? We should be working on the whole problem all the time."
Liveris warned that the U.S. could stand to lose globally if the government doesn't act quickly to invest in job creation.
"Having a jobless recovery is going to cripple this nation," he said. "We've got to toughen up, we've got to take on the hard conversations."
-By Cassandra Sweet, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-439-6468; firstname.lastname@example.org