While indicators continue to edge slowly upward and the U.S. looks to Washington for a solution to the employment problem, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has recently suggested reliance on alternate sources of economic prosperity, most notably exporting and trade expansion. "We could try to dig ourselves out of this hole by inflating the currency, or we can fuel recovery, jobs, and deficit reduction through a massive surge in exports," said U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. "The question is whether we will have the policies and the leadership to make vigorous trade expansion our choice. On that score, we have reason to be concerned."
In his keynote address, Donohue argued that despite his and his association's belief that a major surge in exports is the best path out of recession, an air of isolationism now permeates the halls of Congress and the White House and threatens to stall meaningful reforms as the rest of the world's economies pass America's by. "At a time when our global competitors are making preferential deals that give their workers and companies a competitive advantage over ours, America is sitting on the sidelines. At a time when we should be looking outward to attract talent, welcome tourists and lure capital and investors, many Americans and policymakers want to turn inward," he said. "And at a time when we must stand up to the new isolationists who apparently don't believe that Americans can successfully compete in the world, many of our leaders seem stuck somewhere between vacillation and silence."
Specifically, Donohue advocated establishing a national goal of doubling U.S. exports within the next five years. "That means passing the trade agreements with Colombia, Korea, and Panama. It means successfully concluding the Doha Round, which could boost the worldwide economy by $700 billion," he said. "These agreements are the best way to level the playing field-to make trade fair for Americans." Additionally, Donohue noted that existing trade agreements should be rigorously enforced by the current administration and new firms should be more openly invited to participate in the exporting process. "More than a quarter-million small and medium-sized companies already export-and they account for nearly one-third of all U.S. sales abroad. With advances in global logistics, Internet communications and service providers...smaller companies now have tremendous opportunities to sell to foreign markets," he said. "Government has a role to play in helping these companies get the tools, training, financing, and partners that they need to sell overseas-and we support robust federal trade promotion programs.
"By improving trade facilitation regimes and the global supply chain, we can help address the increased cost in trade financing by reducing the cost of moving goods and services," he added.
A full copy of Donohue's speech can be found here.
Jacob Barron, NACM staff writer. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NACM_National.