Washington D.C. – Last night the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) Foundation hosted its annual World Trade Dinner and Award Ceremony, honoring Congressman Ron Kind, Congressman Erik Paulsen, and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene.
NFTC Foundation President Rufus Yerxa, delivered welcome remarks. “I know the economic growth of the past 20 years has not been shared by many Americans, and there are a host of things we need to do in making trade fairer, improving our tax system and equipping our workforce for a world of rapid technological change,” said Yerxa. “But a hard reverse of 70 years of international economic policy would be a tragic error of judgment. It will only put us further behind our biggest competitors at a time when all of them are moving outward to embrace new trade deals. It will damage our $2 trillion export franchise, raise prices, cost more jobs than it protects and create a more unstable world with fewer supporters of that enduring American vision. It will lead to a loss of confidence in America as a reliable trading partner by our best allies. For if we don’t respect our past alliances, how can we expect others to do so. Worst of all, it puts China in the driver’s seat, and makes them the force to be reckoned with in global trade negotiations, rather than us”
“NFTC companies will support a more muscular trade policy, but one that has a strategic goal and a purpose,” continued Yerxa. “One that is focused outward and addresses the real problems –like getting China, Japan and others to open their markets, be more transparent and play by the rules – instead of beating up on good neighbors that we need as friends and allies in the real struggle for fairer trade.”
During a previously recorded video message, NFTC’s new Chairman, Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, remarked on the importance of NFTC’s mission as our companies “are now dealing with the uncertainty that comes with a possible revision of the international system.”
Congressman Ron Kind was recognized for his lifetime achievement in opening markets worldwide to U.S. trade and investment. During his remarks, Congressman Kind stressed the importance of continued U.S. leadership in the global trading system and warned of the possible effect that a renegotiated NAFTA could have on U.S. businesses and their ability to compete in the global economy.
“We are seriously derailed on where we need to be going as great nation in the 21st century global trading system” said Kind. “Given the 70 years of hard work of positioning the United States as a strong voice and defender of multilateral institutions, of a rule, legal-based trading system, us being at the table to offer our input, our guidance, our principles, our standards, our values; and for a variety of reasons, that space has been vacated with the leadership of our country.”
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and Congressman Erik Paulsen were presented with the Trade Leadership in the Digital Age Award in recognition of their leadership in fostering policies that support companies conducting business across borders thanks to the internet. Earlier this year, Congresswoman DelBene and Congressman Paulsen formed the bipartisan Digital Trade Caucus, which currently has 43 members, to promote U.S. trade policy that works in the digital age. During his remarks, Congressman Paulsen said the Digital Trade Caucus has two goals: “To make sure Americans are not put at any competitive disadvantage when it comes to digital trade and that the U.S. does not engage in any protectionist activities which provoke a response abroad.”
While accepting the award, Congresswoman DelBene highlighted the importance of continuing to educate members of Congress about the importance of digital trade in the 21st century. “Digital trade promotes innovation and economic growth [and] Congress should support policies that ensure the free flow of data across borders, and promote a free and open internet throughout the world. Congress should also make it easier for businesses of all sizes to use the internet to trade by reducing barriers across the board.”
Now in its 103rd year, NFTC Foundation’s World Trade Dinner has become a valued tradition for guests, ranging from senior U.S. government officials and diplomats to executives of critical global industries. This year’s dinner was held in the Great Hall of News at the Newseum.