New York, N.Y., March 20, 2009 – Faced with rising signs of the damage the global economic crisis is causing in poorer nations, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s top global companies, and other business groups joined with the anti-poverty and faith-based communities in appealing for U.S. leadership to maintain open markets and keep millions in the developing world from falling back into poverty.
In a joint letter to President Obama and the House and Senate leadership, the organizations noted that it was highly unusual for such disparate groups to join forces on an issue, but that “there are aspects of the current global financial crisis that warrant such common efforts.” Chief among these is the need to keep markets open and avoid turning inward, they said.
The groups wrote: “The economic welfare of Americans is inextricably linked with the well-being of men, women, and children across the globe. It is essential, therefore, that the United States reject those policies that will worsen the impact of the current economic crisis on global economic growth and development, particularly with respect to poor nations, and work instead alongside the people of these nations to further their own sustainable development. By doing so, we ultimately secure our own economic future.”
The letter cited worrisome evidence of the damage the crisis is having on developing countries, with recent reports from the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization all pointing to the urgency of the situation. Sharp decreases in investment flows, export demand, export credits and commodity prices will hit developing countries hard, the groups said, with Africa being especially vulnerable. The World Bank estimates that each one-percent drop in global economic growth traps 20 million more people in poverty worldwide.
The groups joined in urging the Obama administration and Congress to reaffirm at April’s G20 Summit in London the earlier commitment by G20 nations to reject destructive protectionism. They also called upon the United States to strive for a successful conclusion of the WTO’s Doha Round that opens major markets for both developed and developing countries, review and reform U.S. trade-preference programs to give special attention to uniquely vulnerable countries, and reinforce the commitment to increase development assistance.
“It is important to remember that at the heart of the global financial system are working families and local communities whose fate is bound together in a globalized economy,” the letter stated. “Our nation is undergoing severe distress in terms of jobs, businesses and investment that is taking a daily toll on people. Such problems should motivate us to seek solutions that reject destructive protectionism on the one hand and global indifference to the plight of the poor on the other.”
Groups joining USCIB in signing the appeal included the National Foreign Trade Council, Business Roundtable, Center for Global Development, Emergency Committee for American Trade, the Episcopal Church, ONE, Oxfam America, Progressive Policy Institute, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and World Vision.
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and prudent regulation. Its members include top U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment.
Jonathan Huneke, VP Communications, USCIB
Tel: +1 212.703.5043 (office) or +1 917.420.0039 (mobile)