Exports are the key to putting America back on track in the global economy. Only 1 percent of U.S. companies are exporting. Yet with more than 1 billion new middle class consumers expected over the next 15 years, U.S. businesses will have global market opportunities unparalleled in human history. The challenge is to seize this moment by implementing a national export strategy that will truly lifts all boats.
In the minds of many Americans, international trade is associated with outsourced jobs and shuttered factories. The impact of globalization — especially our nation’s shift from manufacturing to a service dominated economy — has been painful for many families and communities. But with new growing economies and rising incomes around the world, we are no longer in a race to the bottom. There is a new growing market for American innovation.
President Obama and his administration are working to implement the National Export Initiative. The initiative has three key components:
- The federal government will reduce bureaucratic red tape and provide businesses with the tools they need to enter foreign markets. This includes expanding financing opportunities and offering training programs for small and medium-sized businesses.
- Congress will finally approve three long-delayed trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. Experts widely agree that these carefully negotiated agreements will help American exporters by removing costly tariffs and trade barriers.
- All levels of government will work together to help our businesses succeed. There are so many local, regional, state and federal agencies that play a role in trade and commerce. Encouraging collaboration among these agencies will help businesses navigate an often-complicated process.
Locally, this commitment to growing trade means that we must encourage and embrace investments at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach so that we can compete with the rest of the world. Included in that investment is the modernization of LAX and proposals by BNSF Railway Company and Union Pacific Railroad Co. to build new near-dock rail facilities to serve our two ports.
The Los Angeles Area Chamber recognizes that the success of the NEI should be linked to the concept of the Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI) introduced by the Brookings Institute. The Chamber has been a strong supporter and proponent of the MEI to involve more local manufacturing firms in exporting activities. Together with the City of Los Angeles, UCLA Anderson and USC Marshall School of Business we are developing such strategies.
For the L.A. Area Chamber, promoting trade is in our DNA. The Chamber initiated the Port of Los Angeles in the 1890’s and created World Trade Week in 1926. Seven years later President Roosevelt declared World Trade Week a national observance. It is now celebrated for the entire month of May with trade-related events taking place all over the nation. We are proud of that legacy and the more than 500,000 local jobs that depend on trade. We are also proud that President Obama has embraced the National Export Initiative.