America’s economic prosperity is linked to the world economy. Today’s world is not only one of uncertainty and instability, but also of opportunity. Arizona has benefited from global trade that supported nearly 710,000 jobs in our state in 2011, or 22 percent of total jobs. Nearly half of Arizona’s exports go to our neighbor, Mexico, and are predominantly from industries such as computer and electronics manufacturing and transportation related equipment.
This message was highlighted in a recent United States Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) breakfast co-hosted in Tucson by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which featured Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg.
In 2011, 8078 companies exported goods from Arizona. Of these, 88 percent were small and medium sized companies with fewer than 500 employees. Since 2007, the U.S Export-Import Bank has financed over $631.5 million in exports from 117 companies in 18 communities in Arizona.
The USGLC is a broad-based influential network of 400 businesses and organizations; national security and foreign policy experts, and business, faith-based and community leaders in 50 states who support a smart power approach of elevating diplomacy and development alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.
Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer and I are members of the USGLC’s Arizona Advisory Committee, which is furthering the idea of strengthening America’s national security strategy with the increased use of our non-military tools. The Export Import Bank is one of several such tools and is currently being considered for reauthorization. Both chambers of commerce support its reauthorization and will work closely with the Bank to expand its reach to businesses throughout Arizona.
America’s development and diplomatic programs, alongside our defense programs are playing a vital role in spurring economic growth and creating jobs in the U.S. Lt. General Barry Knutson and Jeffrey Cornish of the International Rescue Committee participated in a panel discussion in Tucson to address our national security and humanitarian efforts. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has rightly stated that “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”
Lt. General Knutson spoke about how development and diplomacy have helped prevent conflict in the past and the leadership role the United States has played in the world. Jeffrey Cornish spoke about America’s role in the humanitarian crisis in Syria and our efforts in Africa.
Ninety nine percent of the world’s consumers and America’s potential customers live outside our borders. Continued conversations and a better understanding in Arizona about the tools available to the business community, such as the Export Import Bank, and our country’s role in diplomacy and development, are key to growing the U.S economy.