U.S. Chamber brings together global leaders to talk economic recovery

As Arizona industries produce products in high demand like semiconductors, aircraft engines, electric vehicles and copper ore, the state is well poised to help the world recover from the pandemic.

But strong U.S. leadership is needed to ensure that Arizona and other states are able to flourish on the international stage, said government and business leaders from across the world who spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Global Forum on Economic Recovery. 

Suzanne Clark

“We now join a small number of generations that have collectively experienced disruption on a  global scale“ the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber, Suzanne Clark, said at the event. 

Moving forward, the chamber is advocating for policies that will help American businesses better reach the 95 percent of customers that live outside of U.S. borders, she said. 

“The wrong policies from government could stop the U.S. economic recovery in its tracks. That’s why the Chamber is fighting back against proposals such as raising corporate tax rates to the highest in the developed world, which would disincentivize inbound investment. And it’s why we are fighting for policies to rebuild our infrastructure, welcome global talent, and enable our workforce to get back on the job and drive our economy forward.”  

Business and political leaders from 140 countries attend   

Attending the virtual event were government leaders and business executives from 140 countries across six continents. Amazon, Google and UPS were the sponsors. Participants spoke about strategies for recovery. Free enterprise and strong alliances with trading partners were overriding themes. 

Among the speakers were: Janet Yellen, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; the president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta; the president of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez; the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong; the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates; and others.

Creating roadmap for recovery with U.S. in leadership role  

Chamber officials emphasized the need for U.S. leadership to ensure the nation can compete against global rising giants like China.

Clark outlined the chamber’s top three top priorities to accomplish that — strengthen international trade and investment; advocate for policies to allow data and innovation to flow and flourish; and promote legislation to stimulate innovation in technology to reduce greenhouse emissions for a sustainable planet.  

First priority: managing the pandemic

All participants agreed that the most important task is the rapid development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. While 35 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, other countries are not faring as well, Clark said.  

“A strong U.S. recovery is needed to help lead the global recovery. We also understand that the pandemic won’t be over anywhere until it is over everywhere—no nation will truly get back to strength until all nations get back to health,” Clark said.

To that end, the Chamber has teamed up with the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of America’s leading companies, and leaders of more than 50 top American companies to form the Global Task Force on Pandemic Response—a public-private  partnership to coordinate relief for COVID-19 surges globally. Currently, the Task Force is working to address the India crisis.  

Global leaders talk top priorities 

Here are takeaways from some of the speakers:

Janet Yellen

Janet Yellen, U.S. Treasury secretary 

“America needs to have a strong presence in global markets. We will fight for a level playing field for trade and investment, and we will confront adversaries who take advantage by ignoring or abusing rules and norms of behavior.”  

Kent Walker, senior vice president for Global Affairs, Google 

“As hard as the last year has been, it’s shown the value and the potential of technology – millions of small businesses coming online for the first time. A third of businesses are saying that they were able to stay open because of digital connections.” 

Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya 

“I personally am very keen on seeing the arrangement between Kenya and the United States under the free trade arrangement coming into force as two countries who understand each other and have similar and shared values. [Who] understand the private sector is really the driver of growth and job creation.” 

Antoinette Sayeh, deputy managing director, International Monetary Fund

“Right now, vaccine policy is the most important economic policy. Investing in ensuring everyone rapidly has access to vaccines may well be the highest return public project. If you consider that faster progress in ending this crisis would add almost $9 trillion to global GDP by 2025, enabling over $1 trillion in additional tax revenue, coordinated international action on vaccines is key.”

Iván Duque Márquez

Iván Duque Márquez, President of Colombia 

“We have to do something very significant in terms of protecting the poorest of the poor and the people who will be the most affected by the crisis and that’s why we launched a social safety net program that has allowed us to attend to almost 10 million families around the country.”

Bill Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 

“You know, the actual cost of being ready for the next pandemic is not gigantic—if you look at the precautionary measures of what we spend on our defense budget, you know this won’t be more than about 1percent of that. Even our overall health research budget, the overall cost of what we, the U.S. teams do, will be about 10 percent of that…Climate on the other hand, the numbers are quite large.”

Lee Hsein Loong

Lee Hsien Loong, prime minister of Singapore  

“You’ve got global trading needing to be on a stable basis in order for companies to import and export trade and develop their business and prosperity. The two countries (U.S.& China) must work together.”

Tom Bell, CEO and chairman, Rolls-Royce North America 

“…Incentivizing these sustainable alternative fuels production: It’s wonderful that yesterday an Air France jet left Europe and landed in Canada on sustainable aviation fuel. In this particular case it was a kitchen grease that was repurposed. But let’s be honest, we all don’t want to eat enough french fries to feed that stock, that’s not healthy for the world. So, how are we going to really bring to scale sustainable alternative fuels?”

Carol Tomé

Carol Tomé, CEO, UPS 

“When we think about the impact of the pandemic, we know that women were impacted more than any other group and even before the pandemic women had barriers for global trade… we really gotta think about how we can leverage women at the top and down to grow global trade.” 

Erik Oswald, vice president, strategy and advocacy, ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions 

“We’ll need support from many different parties, both private and public, to succeed. Regulatory and legal support at all levels of government will be crucial for establishing incentives and attracting investment. First, we need Congress to allow for Co2 from non-coal sources to be stored offshore. Second, we need a significant increase in the production tax credits in Section 45 to allow more difficult but abundant sources to be captured. And finally, we need government grants for transportation and storage infrastructure that will ultimately facilitate market growth.”

Charlene Barshefsky, chair, Parkside Global Advisors 

“Xi Jinping believes that China’s model and its focus on innovation, that its programmatic desire to dominate in industries of the future is the direction of the world. As he says, history is on China’s side and the momentum is on China’s side. And for the United States, the key and most important factor in the nature of the relationship with China is a strong United States economically and militarily—nothing compensates for that and nothing substitutes for it.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) 

“We can’t be fighting with Mexico and China, and the EU, and South Korea and Japan, we’ve got to come together and say we collectively are going to have to make sure that China understands what the rules of the road are.”

Victoria Harker

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