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State of American Business is ‘Competitive’ says U.S. Chamber President

On Tuesday, Jan. 11, U.S. Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Suzanne P. Clark shared the State of American Business. In her keynote address, Clark highlighted the innovation and resilience of American business while warning against increasing government overreach that could stifle competition and our fragile economic recovery.

“The state of American business is competitive,” said Clark. “Businesses are not simply competing to win today, but to build a better tomorrow … to propel our country and world toward a brighter future of growth, solutions, and opportunity.”

In a slightly more than hour-long presentation the U.S. Chamber highlighted the diversity, resilience, and strength of the American economy. Centered around the theme, “Competition for the Future,” Clark addresses three key challenges.

Worker shortage:

  • She called for doubling the number of people legally immigrating to the U.S.; a permanent solution for the “dreamers;” and the removal of barriers to work facing parents, those without broadband access, and formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • “Let’s ensure everyone in this country has the skills, the education, and the opportunity to go as high and as far as their hard work and talent will take them—for the 11 million jobs that sit vacant today,” she said. “And for the jobs of tomorrow that haven’t even been invented yet.”

Trade:

  • The U.S. is falling behind on trade, Clark warned. “While other economies race to ink new deals, the U.S. hasn’t entered an agreement with a new trade partner in a decade.”
  • Global partners like Europe have 46 trade deals with 78 countries, while the U.S. only has 14 trade deals with 20 countries.
  • “We must compete vigorously around the world,” Clark said. “We must stand up for our values and security and against unfair trade and regulatory practices. And we must cooperate on critical global challenges such as sustainability and public health. We have to do all three—and doing so deftly will be one of the defining features of American leadership in this era.”

Supporting Democratic Norms and Pro-Business Leaders:

  • We need more politicians who are focused on winning over voters to their ideas, and then building broad coalitions to turn those ideas into good policy, Clark explained.
  • “The U.S. Chamber is calling for a new movement of bold—and I mean bold—business advocates committed to defending those elected officials who dare to find the common ground necessary to enact durable policies to move our country forward.”
  • “If bureaucrats and elected officials don’t stop getting in the way, we will stop them. We will challenge overreach and defend the rule of law at every turn, in every agency, and with every tool at our disposal … in Washington, in statehouses, and in the courts.”

Clark emphasized that political leaders should be competing with their ideas and not simply stoking division by appealing to fringe parts of their base. She also encouraged all Americans to play their part in supporting democratic norms.

“My message to all the citizens of this great nation: Let’s get on the same side in this competition for our future,” she continued. “The U.S. has enough enemies. Let’s stop being our own worst enemy. Let’s stop the infighting and show the world that our democracy supporting our American enterprise system is what made the U.S. dynamic, diverse, resilient, and strong.”

Additional State of American Business Presentations

Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, discussed with Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, president & CEO of BIO, how the medical industry innovates for a healthier and more prosperous world. Dr. Bourla’s remarks zeroed in on how innovations made in the pursuit of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine have led to new, broader advancements in health care.

He said, “We are working on next-generation medicines for cancer, including vaccines against cancer and MRNA drugs against cancer that are going to be able to evade the mechanism cancer uses to create resistance to treatments.”

Dr. Bourla said that much of this innovation was the result of a healthy competitive environment in the life sciences: “The new wave of innovation can only be supported if we support this ecosystem of thousands of small biotech companies that exist—particularly in this country—and academia and institutions like ours. Our ability to collaborate and maintain a vibrant life sciences sector is what will make a big difference.”

Watch Dr. Bourla’s discussion with Dr. McMurry-Heath here.

Carol Tomé, CEO of UPS, sat down with Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and explained how innovation and supply chain resiliency keep commerce and economies moving. Tomé emphasized that it is the company’s workforce that drives UPS’ success.

“It’s because we have career opportunities, and not just job opportunities, that we are able to bring people into our workforce in this tight labor market,” Tomé said.

“There’s a war on talent for sure. But our people are working on cool things too. When you think about people who are in the IT space, you can work on automating your facilities or drones or battery-powered aircraft. We’ve got some really cool things for people to work on.”

Read more about Tomé’s leadership and thoughts on the supply chain crisis and more here.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) discussed with Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley the state of Congress and how policymakers can help promote a strong economy and business environment.

“What we do is identify common ground. Neither of us thinks that coming together, discussing issues, and trying to find compromise is the wrong approach. I think it’s the right approach,” said Sen. Collins. “We’re both pragmatic and want to produce results.”

Sens. Collins and Shaheen discussed at length how their approach to lawmaking, focusing on the needs of the American people and willing to reach across party lines, yields result for their constituents.

“The best example of that is the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which represents the greatest investment in infrastructure in this country since the construction of the interstate system,” Sen. Collins noted.

“There were times during the infrastructure negotiations when things might have fallen apart,” Shaheen said. “But when they did one person or another – people on both sides of the political spectrum – said, ‘We can’t fail. We have to get this done.’ And I think that commitment allowed us ultimately to reach agreement and find solutions.”

For more on the Senators’ conversation with Neil Bradley read here.