As the world faces the most serious economic downturn in almost a century, keeping the free exchange of goods flowing is now perhaps more important than ever. Trade is a key factor in economic growth.
Opening markets to other nations in return for gaining access there for goods and services can create better-paying jobs for workers, build businesses small and large, and boost national economies in the process.
As some nations address the economic downturn by erecting trade barriers to protect jobs and businesses, the top trade negotiator in the U.S., Ambassador Ron Kirk, said that now is not the time to turn inward.
United States Trade Representative Kirk, in his first policy speech since taking office, said the U.S. is committed to a successful conclusion to the global trade talks that bogged down last year and will work with trading partners around the world toward a robust, responsible, progressive trade agenda.
"Now is not the time to be timid," he told a group at Georgetown University in Washington recently. "Now is the time to revive global trade."
Considering that American exports have dropped 16 percent during the current economic crisis, there are U.S. benefits to promoting the free exchange of goods. But the stakes are high for other nations, too. According to the World Bank, growth globally is expected to contract by 1.7 percent this year, the first such decline since World War II. The hit will be greater in nations in the developing world, often dependent on international customers for commodities such as oil, copper and gold, as well as remittances from citizens working abroad.
In this context, Ambassador Kirk said the U.S. is planning a new paradigm on trade. "We can make trade a vital part of a brighter future," he said.