Enterprise Minnesota Hosts Senator Amy Klobuchar to Discuss Manufacturing Exports
Minnesota manufacturers got a chance to brief Senator Amy Klobuchar and a high-level member of the Department of Commerce about U.S. exports policy during a meeting at Enterprise Minnesota this week.
Klobuchar is a newly appointed member of the President's Export Council, which works together to advise the Obama Administration on ways to promote and increase U.S. exports.
"As we look at exports, we not only need to look at unfair trade barriers or things that countries are putting up, but we also have to look at how our own rules are affecting us," Sen. Klobuchar stated in the meeting.
Kenneth Hyatt, deputy under secretary for international trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, also attended the meeting. He used recent statistics to compare U.S. export activity with other first-world nations. Exports represented 14 percent of American GDP in 2012. That number jumps above 30 percent in Canada and China, and soars to nearly 50 percent in Germany.
"Great progress has been made, but there is still a great distance to go," Hyatt said.
Top executives from Carlson Companies, Ikonics and AGCO offered a range of recommendations for advancement.
Carlson Companies CEO Trudy Rautio stressed the importance of a streamlined U.S. entry process for foreign visitors and workers, particularly those who come to the U.S. for seasonal employment in the travel and tourism industry.
Robert Banks, vice president of international sales at Ikonics, a Duluth-based imaging technologies manufacturer, recommended efforts to reduce the high cost of shipping overseas due to duty rates and required export documents and inspections.
Mike Cully, vice president of agricultural equipment manufacturing giant AGCO, agreed with Banks, adding that the U.S. corporate tax rate is also a concern. Cully recommended pursuing a more aggressive agenda of free trade agreements, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would enhance trade with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.
"Where we have free trade agreements, we have a positive trade balance, meaning we're exporting more than we're bringing in, which benefits U.S. companies," Cully said. He also voiced support for President Obama to receive trade promotion authority, in order to "aggressively pursue further free trade agreements around the world."
A more detailed account of the discussion will be found in the upcoming edition of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine.