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The Last Word

An Ode to Trade

By Michael L. Ducker

We have just experienced an extraordinary election, and as with the aftermath of any major electoral change, it will take some time to sort out all of the implications to U.S. policies and programs, such as trade.

I hope we can all agree that for the United States, trading with the world isn't just an option. It's a necessity. Ninety five percent of the world's consumers are outside our borders. We have to find ways to reduce barriers to U.S. goods and services around the world so that we can reach new consumers, grow our domestic economy, and strengthen the bottom line for American families.

The fact is trade is good for--and critical to--the American economy. Exports create new markets for American-made products while imports help American families stretch their budgets by providing more choices and lower prices. Although the U.S. is the world's largest economy, 92 percent of global economic growth and 80 percent of the world's purchasing power are outside of the U.S., according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Supporting international trade is something that we at FedEx are particularly passionate about because we live it every day. Trade is our business. And the rapid growth of global e-commerce now allows small businesses to connect with customers around the world. Time and again, we've seen that our small and mid-sized customers who export tend to grow even faster and create more jobs than similar businesses that do not trade internationally.

Recently we released the Small Business Index, a national survey of over 1,000 small business leaders. Results showed that more than 70% of small businesses see increasing global trade as a way to also help the economy as a whole.

Interestingly, nearly 70% of small business executives said they were more likely to support trade if the U.S. provided effective job retraining. Business has a role to play in this. Government and business must work better together to ensure that displaced workers are retrained and can transition to the new jobs and careers that our economy is creating.

With the election behind us, it's time that trade politics be replaced with sound trade policy. Rippling up trade deals or raising tariffs on imports will not grow our economy. What is needed to build greater support for trade is to adopt a comprehensive pro-growth, pro-competitiveness agenda that will make the U.S. the most competitive economy in the world.

Expanding trade opportunities for Americans has been a bipartisan pursuit since this country started. I'm hopeful that it will continue to be in January, as we all put the election rhetoric behind us and our new president and legislators begin work on the real task at hand. In fact, I'm counting on it. This country's businesses, particularly its mall- and medium-sized businesses, are counting on it, too.

Michael L. Ducker is the president and CEO of FedEx Freight. Ducker's original comments were delivered at a POLITICO trade event in Washington D.C. on November 14, 2016.

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Arkansas Trucking Association
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