Canadian Shipper


Port and business leaders brief Obama administration on trade policy

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla.–With threats of funding cuts by US Congress for the Export-Import Bank and negotiations for two significant international trade agreements in progress, business leaders and port officials met with US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, US Trade Representative Michael Froman and other senior Administration officials to brief them on how international trade policy affects their businesses and communities.

Port officials included Florida Ports Council representatives Port Canaveral CEO John E. Walsh, Steve Cernak with Port Everglades and Paul Anderson with Port Tampa Bay.

“American businesses realize that in order to compete and succeed globally, they have to sell their goods to the 95% of consumers who live outside our borders,” said Secretary Pritzker. “As US businesses increase their exports, they create economic growth and support jobs here at home. Last year, U.S. exports hit a record $2.3 trillion and supported 11.3 million jobs, up 1.6 million since 2009. President Obama and I believe we have to use every tool in our toolkit to ensure that American businesses can reach overseas customers.”

At a roundtable organized by the White House Business Council and Business Forward, the discussion focused on the importance of exporting for national economic growth and ways that government and businesses can better work together to help American companies reach more international markets.

“President Obama’s number one priority is expanding economic opportunity for all Americans, and trade is a crucial part of that effort,” said Ambassador Froman. “By helping our businesses sell more exports abroad, United States trade policy can unlock opportunity, support well-paying jobs, and strengthen our middle class.”

The discussion also touched on two significant trade agreements that the Administration is currently negotiating: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP.) These agreements would boost American competitiveness and help U.S. businesses access more markets in Asia and Europe.

“If the United States is to be a leader in the global economy, it must help companies, large and small, in their ability to export and develop ties with companies in other nations,” said Port Canaveral CEO John Walsh. “It was great to have the opportunity to brief the Obama Administration on ways they can support Brevard County and the entire central Florida region with export activities.”

Currently, fewer than 5 percent of US businesses export their goods and services to international markets. Businesses that do export grow faster and are 8 percent less likely to declare bankruptcy than those that do not export.