Sharing Stories at the WCIT Summer Luncheon

Your trade stories matter.

If there was one take-away lesson from WCIT’s Summer Luncheon earlier this month, that was it. U.S. Representative DelBene and a panel of DC trade policy experts discussed an array of trade policy topics, from failure of Congress to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank to status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and in each case they mentioned how important stories from real companies are in making the case for improved trade policy.

Despite the fact it was a summer day right in the middle of vacation season, a robust crowd of 150 Washington business and community leaders joined WCIT for the luncheon. There’s no telling how many trade policy junkies cancelled their summer vacations to attend what has become a staple in Washington’s trade and business community; we expect that most everyone at least planned their entire summer around our lunch! With so much going on in trade policy right now – Trade Promotion Authority just passed, the Ex-Im Bank has recently expired and is awaiting reauthorization, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations are wrapping up – it makes sense that no one wanted to miss out on the inside the beltway updates.

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The panel, which was moderated by Dorothy Dwoskin from Microsoft, included David Thomas from Business Roundtable, Jonathan Gold from the National Retail Federation and Bill Westman from the North American Meat Institute. While they had diverse perspectives from different industries, the following messages rang out clear:

  • Tell your trade stories – to your workers, to the media, to your elected officials

Although trade advocates have all the facts and stories, we have often been slow in getting our messaging out. If no one knows why trade matters to real workers and real communities, they cannot advocate for the right policies.

  • Be persistent

Trade Promotion Authority went through numerous twists and turns before it was reauthorized, but by keeping up the drum beat with consistent, targeted messaging, the majority of Congress finally understood why it is so important for enhancing our global competitiveness. It is likely we will see persistence pay off in the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank soon as well.

  • TPP has the potential to be huge!

Every industry represented on the panel – agriculture, retail and tech – has the potential to benefit from a successful TPP. For agriculture, it could erase huge tariff disadvantages, putting our products on a more level playing field. For retail, it could expand opportunities to open stores and sell goods in the TPP countries. For tech, it would improve standards on IP protection and cross-border data flows, as well as facilitate trade by improving transparency and rule of law. While we don’t have the actual TPP agreement yet, we can all be proactively advocating for the potential of TPP.

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We are so grateful for those of you who could join us for the luncheon, as well as for our sponsors – the Port of Vancouver (Washington), Highline College’s Supply Chain Management Program, and Boeing. The discussion reminded us at WCIT how much we have left to do to make sure we are adequately conveying our messages to the public and our elected officials on why trade policy matters so much to Washington’s economic success. We hope you will join us in these efforts – and if you haven’t shared your trade stories with us, please do – after all, your stories are the reason we do all we do here at WCIT!

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