Miami is an international city, and we understand how important it is to be actively engaged in the global economy. With our world-class port and strategic location as the gateway to Latin America and beyond, the possibilities are endless for Miami to capitalize on the growing emerging markets beyond our shores.
As former CEO of Kellogg Company and U.S. secretary of commerce, I saw first-hand the benefits of investing and competing in markets that would provide the best return for America. Kellogg’s has expanded into 180 countries, creating jobs back at home. At Commerce, I worked to promote U.S. exports and greater access for American goods and services overseas.
As chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, an international business advisory firm, I recently traveled to China to meet with government and business leaders to discuss ways to enhance trade and promote U.S. exports. What is clear to me — whether in Asia or around the world — is that U.S. commercial diplomacy thrives when we understand how business, government, and civil society intersect and complement one another.
Opening markets involves more than just trade — it includes investing and competing in foreign markets, which also benefits the U.S. economy. Strengthening the tools that advance our country’s economic interests is an investment that must be prioritized. As 95 percent of the world’s consumers now live outside of the United States, we need to continue to expand our access in the global marketplace and better compete in emerging economies. In my experience, U.S. international-affairs programs — from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to USAID — provide some of the best platforms for American entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive overseas.
Such programs promote American exports, and the benefits to Florida, for example, are clear. Today, trade supports more than one in five jobs in Florida, a 10-percent increase over the past eight years. Florida exported nearly $65 billion in goods and services to foreign markets last year, and almost 30,000 international students were enrolled in our colleges and universities, contributing more than $800 million to the Sunshine State’s economy.
Over half of U.S. exports go to developing countries, and that number continues to grow. As goods traded among emerging markets quadrupled since 1990, it is clear that these markets are central to the future of American economic prosperity.
By expanding markets for U.S. goods and services, international affairs programs play a monumental role in advancing U.S. relations on the global stage, particularly in countries where political systems hinder open trade and investments across borders.
Our aim is to expand free enterprise and democracy and forge peaceful changes in countries grow our economy and protect our security. Effective diplomacy and development programs are useful tools to help build more peaceful, prosperous societies, as well as markets for American goods and services.
Most Americans find it surprising that U.S. international-affairs programs only account for 1 percent of the federal budget — not 20 percent to 30 percent. This translates into a great return on investment — leading to more jobs in Florida and a more-secure America. Some may think we need to pull back from the world, but there is too much at stake for America’s global leadership and competitiveness. Now is the time to engage more, not less, globally.
Carlos Gutierrez, a former U.S. secretary of commerce, is chair of Albright Stonebridge Group. He will speak at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s “Impact on Florida” event in Miami on Monday.