Published 05/30/17

World Trade Day 2017 speakers encourage continued trade investment by U.S. companies

One theme animated presentations at Bryant University’s 32nd World Trade Day: Significant trade opportunities abound for American businesses, albeit with risk.

In the May 24 keynote, “The Benefits and Challenges of Globalization for the U.S.,” Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Joshua Meltzer, S.J.D., LL.M., LL.B., highlighted the Trump administration’s misplaced hyper-focus on trade deficits and misperception that imports harm both domestic economic growth and employment.

Several speakers, including Meltzer, noted that President Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership enormously disappointed partner countries and created a leadership vacuum that some country other than the United States will move to fill.

“Israel is called the ‘start up nation,’ with more than 1,000 new startups every year. Israeli entrepreneurs are excellent problem-solvers and have high tolerance for failure.”

Andrea Yonah, Director of Business Development, U.S./Israel BIRD Foundation

CHINA IS "FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS"

“Quite bullish” on China’s Belt and Road Initiative is “Navigating Strategic Business Relationships: China, Russia and Beyond” panelist Lyle Goldstein, Ph.D., Associate Professor, China Maritime Studies Institute, at the U.S. Naval War College. “The Chinese economy is firing on all cylinders… [though there are] lots of risks … to see it is to believe it. The high-speed rail is something to behold.”

Russia and China are collaborating on projects in the Arctic and North Korea, and China’s huge, sophisticated shipbuilding programs are unprecedented, Goldstein said. Businesses operating in the Chinese interior can realize big margins during the next decade, and entities providing environmental remediation, energy, counterterrorism, missile defense and undersea technology offer China much-needed innovation, he added. 

The world’s ever-changing dynamics create a VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous – business environment, said Cris Berwick, “Winning with Global Innovation and Collaboration” panelist and author of Building a Culture of Innovation. Innovation allows VUCA to be reframed as visionary, unbounded, creative, and ambitious, he asserted. “Don’t let borders, trade, or talent stand in your way.”

TRADE OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND FOR U.S.

Through NAFTA, the U.S. has $3.5 billion in daily exports to Canada or Mexico. For NAFTA negotiations, expected to begin in mid-August, Christopher Wenk, Executive Director, International Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a speaker at the luncheon keynote, “The Future of U.S. Free Trade Agreements,” counseled: Do no harm, move quickly, keep NAFTA trilateral, use the amendment process and consult with Congress.

The United States has Free Trade Agreements with only 20 countries representing 6 percent of the world’s population, yet 423 such agreements exist around the world and other countries are far more aggressive in finding trade opportunities, said Wenk.