Addressing USCIB annual dinner, Locke hails International Chamber of Commerce on 90th anniversary
New York, N.Y., October 9, 2009 – The United States must improve its business visa process and export control policies, both of which are hampering America’s global competitiveness, according to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. He spoke last night at the annual dinner of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s top global companies, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
“The United States often makes it too difficult for foreign company executives to enter here to do business, a shortcoming that has a tangible cost for American business by shutting out some of their best customers.” stated Mr. Locke.
The commerce secretary called for an overhaul of the nation’s export control system, proposing that the need for dual-use export licenses be eliminated for U.S. allies and partner nations, and calling for fast-track procedures to review such licenses to other countries that do not pose a significant risk of proliferation.
“As more advances in science and technology occur in places like Europe, Russia and Asia, we are running the risk of preventing U.S. companies from participating in promising avenues of growth,” said Mr. Locke. “That means more high-tech, high-paying jobs going abroad.”
The dinner honored the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organization for which USCIB serves as American national committee. Throughout 2009, ICC is marking its 90th anniversary, and the continued importance of its credo of “peace and prosperity through world trade,” with a series of celebrations around the world.
Reflecting on the current precarious state of global economic recovery, ICC Chairman Victor Fung, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Li & Fung Group, reiterated ICC’s longstanding call for governments to complete the Doha Round of global trade talks.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” he stated. “Unemployment continues to rise in many countries, while many millions of people have fallen into poverty. This is why it is all the more crucial to do everything we can to get economic growth going again. One way we can do so is through trade.”
Christiane Amanpour, senior international correspondent with CNN, also spoke at the dinner. She reflected on a career reporting from zones of conflict around the world, noting that both global business and the journalistic community sought to illuminate the sources of conflict so that these may be overcome.
In addition to the ICC anniversary, the USCIB dinner celebrated four decades of U.S. membership in the worldwide ATA Carnet system for temporary exports. First introduced in the United States in 1969, Carnets are internationally recognized customs documents that allow for temporary duty-free, tax-free import of commercial samples, professional equipment and goods displayed at trade shows.
In June, USCIB signed a multi-year agreement with the Commerce Department to expand awareness of Carnets among small and medium-sized exporters. USCIB, which issues and guarantees Carnets in the U.S., will work with the U.S. Commercial Service to develop educational and training programs, with the goal of expanding use of the innovative “merchandise passports.”
Previous ICC anniversary events have been held in Geneva, Paris and Kuala Lumpur. The anniversary year will culminate with a high-level gathering of business leaders in New Delhi in December. The USCIB dinner followed a lunch at the United Nations yesterday presided over by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. ICC will also convene a two-day symposium at Harvard Business School starting today to assess the future of market capitalism. More information on ICC and its 90th anniversary is available at www.icc90anniversary.org.
Based in Paris, with a network of national committees in some 90 countries, ICC has over the past nine decades represented business views to national governments and international organizations, while also establishing the world’s leading court of commercial arbitration and developing crucial rules for cross-border business activity in a variety of areas.
USCIB Chairman William G. Parrett lauded the vision of ICC’s founders. “They called themselves the ‘merchants of peace,’” he said. “Their conviction that commerce is a powerful force for good is as true now as it was nine decades ago. Indeed, the long period of peace and growth since 1945, which has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, can be traced directly back to the vision” of those who founded ICC in 1919.
Secretary Locke congratulated ICC on its anniversary, calling it “a long-time advocate for the power of open markets to unlock human potential across the globe.”
“Your work has never been more important than it is now,” he said. “During previous periods of economic difficulty, many governments, including that of the United States, have succumbed to the false comfort of turning inward and closing off markets. We all need to be vigilant against the forces of protectionism.
“You have seen how trade can create jobs and growth, speed the delivery of transformative ideas and technology, and hasten democracy and the spread of freedom. And that is a message all of us have a duty to spread, even if it isn’t always popular.”
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. More information is available at www.uscib.org.
Jonathan Huneke, VP Communications, USCIB
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