Washington, DC – USA*Engage and the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) today hosted a luncheon to honor Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) for their leadership on issues relating to U.S. diplomacy and global engagement. During the USA*Engage 11th annual lunch, which was held in the Dirsken Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, both Sen. Hagel and Rep. Blumenauer delivered remarks focused on the importance of the United States maintaining an open dialogue with the rest of the world and resisting the temptation to turn inwards now and in the future.
In his remarks during the event, Sen. Hagel discussed the critical link between U.S. diplomatic efforts and the United States continuing to open markets abroad to U.S. goods and services exports. “Trade is not just an exchange of goods and merchandise. Trade is the only bridge into other nation’s culture and society. It is the one bridge that gets across the great chasm of differences; it is the one relevant and realistic option for countries to continue to grow and improve,” said Hagel. “We can fall prey to the narrowness of politics, but trade will overcome it. I believe free trade will be sustained.”
Sen. Hagel was honored for his strong support of U.S. global engagement and free trade and for being a consistent champion of diplomacy. In a 2007 letter, Sen. Hagel called on President Bush to “offer direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks on Iran.” In addition, Senator Hagel has also cosponsored efforts to reform the way in which U.S. sanctions are administered.
Representative Blumenauer focused his remarks on the need for multilateral cooperation on a range of issues – from environmental protection and global poverty to international trade. “Fighting global poverty must be one of our country’s top priorities. We have a responsibility to help developing nations, yet we continue to fall disturbingly short. America invests less than two-tenths of one percent of our gross national product in ending global poverty,” said Blumenauer. “I truly believe that trade should be used to help lift people out of poverty. We must provide effective food aid to nations that need it, particularly now as the cost of food skyrockets. Sending food overseas can take months and undercuts local food markets, which is why we must streamline our delivery mechanisms.”
USA*Engage and the NFTC honored Rep. Blumenauer for his commitment to a U.S. diplomacy, including his votes against new unilateral U.S. sanctions efforts against Cuba and Iran. Rep. Blumenauer has sought to promote humanitarian engagement abroad, and as a new member of the House Ways and Means Committee, he has been a strong supporter of a bipartisan trade policy.
Since its inception, USA*Engage has maintained a commitment to advocating for U.S. diplomatic engagement and dialogue as means of addressing important political, social and economic concerns facing the global community. USA*Engage also remains a strong proponent of trade and citizen diplomacy, and consistently opposes U.S. unilateral sanctions.
“Senator Hagel and Congressman Blumenauer each take a thoughtful and nuanced approach to U.S. foreign policy and are champions of international engagement,” said Jake Colvin, Director of USA*Engage. “Their commitment to ensuring that the United States remains a respected diplomatic leader in the world is one reason we honor their public service today.”
USA*Engage (www.usaengage.org) is a coalition of small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. Established in 1997 and organized under the National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org), USA*Engage leads a campaign to inform policy-makers, opinion-leaders, and the public about the counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions, the importance of exports and overseas investment for American competitiveness and jobs, and the role of American companies in promoting human rights and democracy world wide.
The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.