f_0019837_16906 - Rebuilding America Through Exports M...

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Fall 2010 The Ambassadors REVIEW 36 Rebuilding America Through Exports M. Osman Siddique United States Ambassador to Fiji, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu, 1999-2001 n his State of the Union address, President Obama noted his intention to double US exports to grow our economy out of this recession. As a businessman and former US Ambassador, I could not agree more. This speech must be a clarion call. Millions of Americans are jobless, many thousands have lost homes, and we all— Democrats and Republicans—see the future with great concern and anxiety. Wall Street is shaky and Main Street is miles from revival. Can we rise to the challenge posed by new major competitors like China, India, Russia, etc.? Yes we can, but we clearly need a major shift in our economic strategy and foreign commercial trade policy. Our focus on defense projects since 2001 may have dulled the competitive skills we need to win foreign business. American companies that helped win the Cold War now lack the vital predatory instincts of companies from our competition. Iraq’s recent award of oil field projects gave a lion’s share of contracts to European, Russian and Chinese compa- nies, but a kitten’s share to US firms. We are fast losing ground to aggressive foreign competitors. According to one media report, one major factor in winning those Iraqi contracts was the Chinese diplomats who served in Iraq long enough to learn flawless Arabic and a deeply nuanced understanding of Iraqi politics, and become key assets in a strategy designed solely to help China’s firms win business. Clearly, these foreign companies have
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f_0019837_16906 - Rebuilding America Through Exports M...

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