A modern, business-inclusive set of policies is needed for U.S. to navigate interesting times
Based on its first three months, it is difficult to see where the administration of President Donald Trump will come down on some of the most critical challenges facing our country.
From where I sit, as head of a business association representing leading American companies with operations all around the world, the path forward is clear. Our nation’s continued prosperity and security demand that the United States remain engaged internationally on a range of key issues, including cross-border trade and investment, climate change, sustainability and support for a rules-based global economy.
American companies are heavily invested in creating the conditions for expanded U.S. influence internationally, and for renewed investment and growth at home. USCIB is well positioned to work with the new administration and Congress – and with the overseas business partners with whom we have established longstanding close ties – to support our member’s interests by focusing attention on the key issues and initiatives that will undergird America’s growth and success, and strengthen the global economy, in the 21st century.
Defining America’s role in the 21st century must be a top priority.
USCIB is ready to work in concert with the Trump administration and Congress to develop the strategy for U.S. engagement with the wider world – one that both continues and augments the benefits that American businesses, workers and consumers draw from active participation in the global economy and international institutions.
We need policies that anticipate, address and support the demands of a changing American workplace, while addressing the legitimate needs of those displaced or disadvantaged by the 21st-century global economy.
Such a strategy must recognize and build upon America’s strengths in innovation, entrepreneurship, world-class work force and know-how.
It should further seek to leverage American business to reinforce U.S. global leadership, and effectively engage with multilateral institutions to foster international rules and a level playing field that support our competitiveness.
The U.S. should also seek to make these institutions more accountable and representative of key global stakeholders, including the private sector, in pursuit of shared goals and values. This is something that my organization, as the recognized U.S. business interface with the UN, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Labour Organization (ILO) and other multilateral bodies, is especially well-positioned to help bring about.
Broadly speaking, the new administration should focus on four broad priorities:
1. Making globalization work for everyone – The benefits to the United States of increased trade and investment with the world are significant and broadly dispersed across the entire population. But the painful downside of job loss as the result of foreign competition is felt sharply by many individuals and localities. We need policies that effectively address the short-term losses while ensuring the broad gains remain intact, demonstrating the value of economic openness and dynamism for all Americans.
2. Growing a dynamic, 21st-century economy – Keeping an open door to trade and investment is only part of the equation in building a robust, dynamic economy for the 21st century. Many of the biggest handicaps to U.S. competitiveness are self-inflicted: poor investment in infrastructure, lagging educational institutions, an antiquated and byzantine tax system and poorly constructed immigration policies. We need to build bipartisan support for sensible, long-term investments and policy reforms in each of these areas.
3. American leadership in the wider world – Farsighted U.S. policies have helped foster global growth and stability ever since World War Two. This in turn has provided direct benefits to America in terms of national security, as well as our ability to grow and compete in the international economy. The world now confronts multiple challenges (such as climate change, terrorism, migration and slow growth in many economies) that demand continued American leadership and close international cooperation.
4. Transparent and accountable international institutions – America, and American business, led the way in building the postwar international institutions and a rules-based system to foster global stability, growth and development. Unfortunately, some international organizations in the UN family are becoming hostile to the private sector, seeking to exclude business representatives from key meetings and to impose an anti-business agenda. We need to confront that discrimination, while actively supporting and growing the mutually beneficial relationships that do exist after more than 70 years of consultative status by global business with various UN agencies. In this regard, we welcome the UN’s recognition of the positive role of business through the recent granting of Observer Status at the UN General Assembly to the International Chamber of Commerce.
The companies that my organization represents are ready to work with the Trump administration and Congress to strengthen U.S. competitiveness, reap the gains from participation in global markets and trade, and deliver benefits in the form of jobs and opportunities for U.S. workers. We firmly believe that these objectives can and must be pursued together.
Peter M. Robinson is president and CEO of the United States Council for International Business, a business association that represents leading U.S. companies.