In a blistering critique of anti-foreign trade sentiment and warning of “economic isolationism,” Mike Eskew – chairman & CEO of United Parcel Service (UPS) – called on the U.S. business community to step up efforts to communicate the benefits of global commerce.
“We believe there is no greater agent working for global peace and stability than the force of increased trade between nations,” he said during a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. “But we're losing the battle here in the U.S. and abroad. The small, but vocal, anti-globalization movement has pushed its message forward with great force and tenacity in recent years. And here in Washington, in the midst of national elections, we’re seeing global trade cast as a hot button political issue.”
Eskew said the key benefit of trade is summed up by a comment made by former Secretary of State Cordell Hull: “When trade crosses borders, armies don't.”
“While people worry about outsourcing, layoffs, terrorism and change in general— and there are concerns there that must be addressed— a retreat toward economic isolationism would be disastrous for American business, American workers and for the American economy,” Eskew noted.
He said some 97% of all U.S. exporters are small businesses and their ranks have tripled since 1992. The value of their exports has increased over 300% since 1995. “These exporting small businesses are at least 20% more productive than their non-exporting counterparts; they've experienced 20% greater job growth, and they pay wages and benefits that are at least 15% higher,” Eskew added.
But he said those facts mean nothing if the American public doesn’t understand that business today is global. “Isolationism is not an option,” he warned.