Kerry: Foreign Policy is Economic Policy
"In many ways, foreign policy today is economic policy," says US Secretary of State John Kerry. "And leaders in government need to understand that. There is a synergy and an importance to this relationship that cannot be denied."
By John Kerry US Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- I’ll tell you, I – about a couple of months – I mean, before I was offered the job of being Secretary of State, I was still, obviously, serving in the United States Senate. And I was walking through an airport one day, and this fellow – you notice when people have that sense of recognition. And he points at me, and he says, “Hey, you, hey you, anybody tell you you look like that Kerry guy who we sent down to Washington?” (Laughter.) And I say, “Oh, they tell me that all the time.” He says, “Kind of makes you mad, don’t it?” (Laughter.) So I’m very happy to be out of the electoral process, folks. (Laughter.) It’s just fine by me.
I’m really happy to be here and I’m very, very honored to be introduced by Penny, who is a good friend. She was very involved with me in 2004 when I ran for President. I’m just so thrilled she is now our Commerce Secretary, and I’m very grateful for the effort and the energy that’s gone into making this first ever summit such a success. No one who knows Penny is going to be surprised by that, because everything that Penny has done – in business, in philanthropy, in public service – has always been a success. And those of you who know her know that she is really a dynamic CEO in her own right, and you can feel the energy and the leadership that she is already bringing to the Commerce Department. She’s a fabulous partner and I’m thrilled by it; very, very happy to have her there.
And I was with her, and she said – I heard her in the introduction talk about being in Kuala Lumpur together, and we had a chance to go out and break bread together. And we were chatting, and she was reminding me of the story of her dad who started the family business with one motel out in Los Angeles. And she kind of lived in the motel, and then she went up to San Francisco, and boom, it grew to six. And now everybody knows what Hyatt Hotels Incorporation are – it’s a great American story. It’s a great story of entrepreneurship, and we’re so proud of Penny and grateful that she’s stepping back from the private sector to share with us that expertise and give us the energy and dynamics we need.
Her leadership of SelectUSA is just one of the reasons that this effort has the potential to grow our country, and to grow all of yours, for those of you who are here visiting from so many other countries. And we welcome you here. The single biggest reason SelectUSA is going to make a difference is, frankly, all of you, a group of very capable business leaders, people who are hungry, who understand the dynamics of the marketplace, who are ambitious in your business goals, and come here with a vision from nearly 60 countries around the world and from all across the United States.
I said in my confirmation hearing, when I was selected to become Secretary of State – I said to the Senators, my former colleagues, that in many ways, foreign policy today is economic policy. And leaders in government need to understand that. There is a synergy and an importance to this relationship that cannot be denied.
I think many of you are here because you understand this new marketplace that we’re all operating in – voracious, huge appetite. And very, very fast-moving. And we wanted you to come here and SelectUSA is the umbrella that is hosting this event because we believe deeply – we’re convinced, based on our dealings in the world, the exposure in the world, without arrogance, without chauvinism – that there is no better place in the world to invest than here in America. And there’s no better time to do it, in many ways, than right now, because some of the growth and development of the last few years has sort of equalized out in some places so that manufacturing – as the Secretary said, the number of manufacturing jobs here now – we’re growing in manufacturing again because it’s competitive again for a lot of different reasons.
So make no mistake: As we look ahead to the major trends that are going to define this new age, the factors that will determine which countries thrive, as well as which businesses thrive in this competitive marketplace, I think it’s crystal clear that the United States is going to continue, because it’s the nature and base of our economy, not because we’re somehow superior and somehow better. We just – the nature of how we have grown and where we’ve come from, from the Industrial Revolution all the way through the 1990s and the tech explosion, and into where we are now. We will continue to lead the world in both innovation and education because of the nature of our universities, the structure, the number, and the openness with which they operate.
And I believe also people will have access here because we will continue to work hard to make sure that we have the most qualified workers and one of the largest consumer markets in the world. Again, I say, I don’t say any of this with one touch of arrogance. I say it because that good news for America is also, in fact, good news for the world. It is good news for you and your businesses. And you know the importance of the American economy in terms of driving China’s economy and other economies in the world, and their importance now to driving other economies in their regions and elsewhere. And it’s a principal reason why I believe you ought to invest here. It’s why President Obama is making attracting job-creating investment a top priority at a level unlike any before.
So you are sitting here this morning, we believe, in the heart of the most open economy in the world. The United States already is the world’s largest recipient of direct foreign investment. In addition, the investment Penny mentioned about manufacturing – we have about 5.6 million total good-paying American jobs, contributing close to a trillion dollars to our economy that comes from foreign direct investment. And that’s why manufacturing, pharmaceutical, IT, energy companies from many of your countries are now setting their shop – setting up shop here in the United States every day.
Our trade agreements are built on the premise of shared prosperity. We have deals that go both ways, and those create good-paying jobs all over the world. They offer American firms unprecedented global access, which we think is critical. But it also opens our doors and our markets to foreign firms. Now, I want you to – and I think, incidentally, I’ll just tell you, I think this is the direction of the world. This is the way the world is going to move. And those who understand it and those who move most rapidly to embrace the higher standards and the openness are those who are going to be able to take advantage of the new marketplace and be leaders in the global economy. Nobody can put this genie back in the bottle. I used to have arguments up in the Senate with my colleagues. We had the great NAFTA debate and all those other struggles, free trade versus the sort of old order, if you will. And the fact is that every single time we’ve moved forward in that openness and every single time we’ve embraced one of those agreements, we’ve done better. We’ve transitioned – not always without some disruption, not always without some dislocation, obviously, but with a massive infusion of new energy and new creativity and new innovation and new jobs that come with the change.
So I want you to measure what we’ve done with our neighbors, Canada and Mexico. We opened up North American through NAFTA, the greatest single step towards shared prosperity in this hemisphere. And we know we don’t have to share a border in order to share business, which is why we have free trade agreements with 20 countries from Chile to Morocco to South Korea – markets that together reach 700 million people and seven trillion in GDP.
But none of that alone would actually make the United States the best place to invest if we didn’t also focus on our workers and make sure that we’re doing as much as we can to try to have the best workers, the most skilled and the most productive that we can, in the world, hopefully. And that’s true in part because we work hard to make sure that we train them in the best schools and universities, and a lot of effort that goes into that. And we reach out to bring the brightest minds and the best talent from all over the world. Many of you know, and many of you were, maybe, educated here in the United States. I can’t tell you how many heads of state, finance ministers, foreign ministers, prime ministers throughout government, heads of state and chief executives, who I meet as I travel the world and have for the last 29 years as a senator, who came to the United States to go to school, or who participated in educational exchanges in the Fulbright Program, for instance, or in other programs.
I meet them everywhere. The Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, who has been Foreign Minister for 30 plus years or more, proudly reminds me of his education at Princeton, for instance. And the Foreign Minister of Vietnam today showed me, when I saw him in New York at the United Nations General Assembly, handed me a photograph and said, “This was you and me 25, 30 years ago when I met you at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy when you were a senator.” It’s incredible. That’s the new world we’re living in. Maybe a lot of you have a cousin or a friend who came to our shores to start their own business. In fact, about half of our small businesses are started by immigrants who know instinctively that the American Dream is not restricted to those born in America.
If you go to Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, or any major city in America, you will find a community that speaks your language, understands your culture, welcomes diversity, and can serve as an anchor for your next venture. And it’s not just the big cities. You’ve heard from President Obama, Secretary Pritzker, Secretary Lew, and so many others at this summit about a lot of the success stories – Indian manufacturers expanding plants in Upstate New York, Singaporean companies extending their supply chains to the heart of Texas, German multinationals creating jobs in small-town Kentucky, Canadian pharmaceutical subsidiaries investing in suburban Ohio, and South African energy firms investing in Southwest Louisiana. That’s not in the future. That’s now. That’s the present.
So there’s no question that the United States is lucky to be able to offer the world’s best investment climate today. And I say lucky; we’re blessed to have it, but we do try to work at it. And President Obama has made it clear we’re going to work at it even harder. No investment is about the past. It’s about the future. So we’re going to refuse to sit still. The world, as we all know, is getting more competitive, but so are we. Capital chases confidence, and I’m confident that we’re going to continue to get stronger and be more effective.
SelectUSA is a big reason why. As you’ve heard yesterday and perhaps during the week, those of you here, we’re working hard now to make it even easier for you to be able invest here, and making that effort is a much bigger part of our mission, especially now at the State Department. At home, we are coordinating at every level, from mayors of small towns all the way up to President Obama.
The State Department family around the world has been instructed, working with the Foreign Commercial Service of the Commerce Department, that we must organize dedicated investment teams, led by our capable ambassadors, drawing on the talent of our dedicated embassy staff, and we’re going to actively encourage job-creating investments in the United States as a core priority.
Our diplomats already play a huge role in helping your businesses succeed in the United States. In Estonia, our ambassador led an intensive outreach effort to encourage tech start-ups to come to the United States. In Canada, embassy officers worked with a local automotive firm in order to invest tens of millions of dollars in Michigan, where the American auto industry is now making a remarkable comeback. All over the world, working hard to help businesses meet their goals, the State Department is engaged in – with a new level of intensity and focus because of the nature of the global marketplace.
And we believe we can do more and we’re going to do more, starting in 32 markets that represent more than 90 percent of all the foreign direct investment that comes here. So what does that mean for business leaders like you? It means that you’ll now have a single point of contact to connect your company with our markets and investors, and the economic development organizations who are here to help you and your businesses grow.
Just the other week I met with a group of CEOs in Indonesia, and they – some of them expressed frustration to me with some of the foreign governments who preach the principle of open markets, but then they actually practice protectionism. These CEOs know, as you do, that freer markets create more opportunity, more growth, more dynamism, and more innovation. The freedom to fail is an important component of succeeding.
So in order to open more doors and in order to continue the best investment climate in the world, we’re going continue to add to our strong portfolio of trade agreements that reaffirm our commitment to open and free markets, and to a level playing field. Now, globalization means that people everywhere now have higher expectations. In many ways, the revolutionary events that are taking place in the Middle East and in some other parts of the world are a reflection of that. The Tunisian revolution that peacefully removed a dictator of some 30 years was not ideological. It was not inspired by religious extremism. It was a fruit vendor who wanted to practice his trade without corruption and without interference. And that fruit vendor sparked that revolution because people wanted to touch the aspirations that they now know the rest of the world is living or sharing in so many places.
Same thing in Tahrir Square. Tahrir Square was not the Muslim Brotherhood. Tahrir Square had nothing to do with that kind of politics or with any kind of religion or any kind of ideology. It was young people texting each other and using their smartphones and the virtues of being able to text and tweet and connect with people that brought about another revolution. And the same thing is what started Syria, though Syria was coopted faster by other interests and other forces.
No leader anywhere in the world can afford to look away from huge populations of young people coming at us in unprecedented numbers, all of them in touch with their aspirations. It’s a different world. It’s going to change politics as well as business. So what we’re going to try to accomplish with two enormous and high – very high-standard trade negotiations that were underway right now is to raise the standards and raise the possibilities for people.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will integrate a region, represents 40 percent of global trade. And if we can lock that in, it will raise the standards around the world. When you link that to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which will bring Europe, which is another 40 percent of the world’s market, you will have – in fact, it’s the largest market in the world that will join with the largest individual economy in the world, and that will create an enormous transformation in the standards that people are practicing by. Those efforts will dramatically expand our market reach and they will strengthen rules-based trading so that we engage in a race to the top, not a race to the bottom. And that helps everyone compete while ensuring strong protections for workers, for consumers, and for the environment.
While we’re talking about markets, we are staring at the biggest market in the world. Some people are trying to grab it. But I want you to measure this. The market that created the great wealth of the United States in which every single quintile of income earners saw their incomes go up in the 1990s and created unprecedented wealth, more wealth than was ever created in the age of no income tax and the Pierponts and Morgans and Rockefellers and so forth – much more wealth created in the 1990s. That was a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users.
The global energy market is a $6 trillion market, and today, it has 4 billion users and it will climb to somewhere around 6 or more, maybe 9 billion users over the next 40 to 50 years, because that’s where the population of the planet is going. This is the most incredible market ever, and it is the solution, incidentally, to climate change. So we’re going to fight to stay at the forefront of this energy market, recognizing that it has the benefits of climate change as well as the marketplace. We’re going to develop the clean technologies that are going to power the world and protect our environment at the same time. Now, we’re on pace right now to be the largest oil producer by 2020 – largest oil producer in the world. Who would have thunk that one a few years ago? And that gives us the promise of alternative fuels, including shale gas, and we will become fully energy self-sufficient by the year 2035.
There’s another kind of energy that also, I think, drives us here in this country. It’s the energy that fuels our private sector, and that is the energy that comes out of an American value called entrepreneurship. The United States does know how to encourage and cultivate startups, because not too long ago, our country was a startup. Innovation isn’t just in our interest; it’s in our DNA. And that’s why we aggressively protect intellectual property rights as part of a strong, transparent, accountable legal system.
Today, we need entrepreneurship more than ever. As more and more young people join the labor market, the world is going to need about a half a billion new jobs by 2030, and many of those jobs I guarantee you have not even been invented yet. Entrepreneurship will help to solve that puzzle, and SelectUSA can help.
A few weeks ago, I met with hundreds of entrepreneurs while I was in Kuala Lumpur. These were innovators who came from all around the world and they couldn’t wait to build the next big thing. And who knows? The best ideas are never limited by borders, but these folks may be the ones already changing the world. It’s that kind of openness that drives the American economy and foreign economies, and it moves all of us forward at the same time.
Now, needless to say, we have our own interests here, for sure. It’s no secret that our President’s number-one priority is creating strong middle class jobs here at home. But he also knows that the best way to do that is to strengthen our international economic ties and foster broad growth around the world.
We know that promoting inclusive growth and strengthening the rule of law in other countries also helps us to create new markets for our businesses and jobs for our workers. And when we help other nations to develop their own ability to govern and to meet the aspirations of that booming youth population I talked about, we foster stable societies, and everybody here knows stability is pretty important with respect to investment decisions and prognosis.
We do what we do because we’ve always known that we’re sort of all in this together. We’re all connected in this. And that’s another reason why the United States, we believe, is the best place to invest, because there’s no other country where you can be so confident that your investment is going to contribute to a shared prosperity.
Now, that idea is really one of the cornerstones of our country. You saw it in the Marshall Plan. Marshall Plan rebuilt a continent after a war, when all economies were just shattered and broken. And we stepped up and invested and loaned so that we could all share in the postwar prosperity. You see it today in the recipients of American assistance who are graduating from that assistance into full-fledged partnership in the trading community. Look at South Korea. In less than a generation, South Korea has been transformed from an aid recipient to one of the major donors in the world today. That’s an incredible story. In fact, that transformation describes 11 of our 15 largest trading partners. And that kind of shared prosperity today is more important than ever before to the reasons I talked about earlier about young people and their aspirations.
We also know in the United States that we are part of something much bigger than just buying and selling, hiring and investing. Before anyone is a CEO or a Secretary of State, we are citizens. And by virtue of the fact that you’re here, I know that you consider yourselves citizens of the world. So remember: Our shared responsibility to ensure shared prosperity is one of the most important ways that we advance shared security.
As Secretary of State, I obviously travel a lot, and I do it for a reason: Because there is no substitute for face-to-face diplomacy. There’s no more reliable way to build trust, to ensure your interests and values are aligned, to close a deal. And that’s why you’ve come here from all over the world to be in Washington this week – to meet each other face-to-face, to build relationships, and to share the ideas that could hopefully, conceivably, change the world.
As you build that confidence in each other, I want you to know there is no market in the world that I believe deserves your confidence more than this one. As investors, as friends, I think you understand the United States, despite momentary political hiccups and despite sometimes the conflict of politics, still marches forward with a private sector that is increasingly empowered to be able to define for itself what the economic future will be.
My message to you is that now is the best time to make that investment, and my pitch to you is pretty direct: Get in on the ground flood of this century of possibilities and transformation. The possibility of a great global century, a century hopefully that will be defined almost exclusively by the shared prosperity that lifts people all over the world and resolves so many of the conflicts and problems that we face today, because individuals who yearn for the opportunity to touch what we have are actually able to do so. You can be part of that transformation. In fact, it won’t happen without you. And I hope the sooner we get around to the business of doing it, the sooner we will solve some of these challenges we face today.