Chairman and CEO
The Boeing Company
"After Cancun: The Future of the Global Trading System"
Chicago Council for Foreign Relations
The Chicago Conference on the Global Economy
September 15, 2003
As chairman of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, it is my honor and my privilege to welcome you to the first, and I underline first, Chicago Conference on the Global Economy.
I want to thank you for being here at this conference. It's our intention that we will be holding many more. I want to thank our guest speakers for making this a great conference. I want to thank Marshall Bouton for his vision and strong leadership to make it a success.
I think it is significant that we are meeting here in Chicago for this conference. As the mayor said, this is the crossroads of this country, where transportation, communication, technology, information, agriculture, and finance all come together. So I can't think of a better place to come and to spend time, to debate, to think, and to look at the issues of the global economy.
It's good to also look at the past. In 1893, people came to Chicago for the Columbian Exposition, and the focus was to look at the future. Here we are today looking at the future of the global economy, and we are going to talk about trade after a disappointing Ministerial.
I think it's more important than ever that we come together and talk. It's important to harness the energy of trade and investment so we can create a common global destiny. Because of the information revolution, we are moving to a global economy. It is in our interest that we make that transition as powerful and inclusive as we can possibly make it. It's important for us to be here, to gather together, to talk about the issues, to understand the role of agriculture and manufacturing, to understand how we can, in fact, build a global trading system. So we have a good agenda, and we have an opportunity at this forum to work together.
Thank you, Paul (O'Conner). As Paul mentioned earlier, I have a commitment and will depart right after my remarks. But I would love to stay and be part of this discussion because I believe it is so important.
Before I leave, let me give you a few of my thoughts as we think about the global economy and what is ahead. The timing of this meeting was intentionally set for right after Cancun with no knowledge of what the outcome would be. Clearly, every one of us is disappointed in what happened, but I don't believe we can stand aside and say, "Why didn't they reach a conclusion?" We all have an opportunity and responsibility to think about where we go from here and how we do it.
Paul asked the question at the start, "Can we build a fair and equitable trading system?" Yes, we can, but it is not, and will not, be easy. It will be extremely difficult. Why is it difficult? Because negotiations between parties that are in very different positions inevitably require compromise. "I don't want to give up my position before you give up your position. I don't want to move before you move." As long as everyone is in that position, it's hard to move. So I think our task is to think about how do we work together to create a more favorable environment ? a more favorable political environment, a more favorable business environment ? for the negotiation of a fair and equitable trading system. So, what is necessary? What do we need to have that kind of success?
I think one of the real keys is leadership. Leadership on the part of governments and leadership on the part of business ? both are critically involved. With strong leadership, I believe we can reach that goal of a fair and equitable trading system. I think we can shape the future of the global economy.
First important role is leadership by governments.
Let me start by looking at the United States, maybe because it's closest, maybe because most of us are directly involved. This is, in fact, the country with the strongest economy in the world, the largest economy in the world. The United States has a great stake, and so we have much to gain from a strong global trading system. But we have had some real issues, particularly over the last decade. We went through a period when out government was disengaged in many aspects from international trade:
- Our president did not have trade negotiation authority from Congress.
- We did not have national consensus on trade policy after negotiations failed in Seattle.
That environment made it extremely difficult for our trade negotiators to complete their agenda, and they lost their ability to bridge competing agendas and foster new multilateral consensus. I think we are now beginning to make progress. The passage of the Trade Promotion Authority in 2002 is helping us reclaim our leadership position. I think that is a great and important step.
Another step that is critical is that the U.S. government needs to think seriously about how it can influence the world in a very positive way to:
- Provide technical assistance to support policy reforms.
- Create a more transparent legal system on a global scale, develop better regulatory and legal institutions, and establish a common rule of law across the world that governs trade.
So there is an opportunity to exercise real leadership. And the U.S. government is not alone in that responsibility. The governments of Europe, Japan, and other developed countries have an equally critical role in moving this trade agenda forward. The task will not be easy. If one looks backward and looks for easy political support, it will not be there. That is why I believe that leadership is so important. We will have to deal with agricultural issues in the United States, in Europe, and in Japan. We cannot proceed without dealing with those issues.
The developing countries need to work on a rule of law on transparency, so that we have a fair, equitable, and transparent global trading system. This is the job of government -- to provide leadership, not to just fall back on politics , but to provide leadership and direction.
Second important role is leadership by business.
Companies -- large companies, small companies -- have a tremendous amount at stake in an open, viable, global trading system.
Business can perform an incredibly important role. Ambassador Hills mentioned education and the job of helping people understand that trade is in their benefit. I think there is more .
Let me mention a few of the things that I think are important from a business perspective. Companies "must walk the talk." They must demonstrate their good corporate citizenship and the importance they place on that.
Let me give you a fundamental example: There has been a lot of talk over the years about lifelong employment, about guaranteed job security. And I think the primary issue here is job security and the perception of job security. What we all know is that there is no way to guarantee job security other than to be competitive in the marketplace and in the global economy. There is no way we can guarantee lifelong employment. But there is a way to guarantee lifelong "employability," which is very different.
We live in a world in which education -- continuing education, lifelong education -- is absolutely vital. Technology is changing, processes are changing, and to hope for the status quo is not a solution to job security. For employers to dedicate themselves not only to the education of their employees in terms of what is good about trade, but to the education, the lifelong learning, of their employees is absolutely vital. That is what will guarantee employability in an economy that is continuously changing and will continue to change.
So government has a real leadership role and business has a real leadership role. We can't stand idly by and point fingers and say, "Why didn't you succeed?" We have to look at the role that each one of us must play. How do we encourage our government to take the leadership role? How do we, as corporations, educate our employees about the value of trade in ways that guarantee their employability in an economy that is changing and will continue to change?
Each of us has an opportunity to do that. Each of us has a responsibility to do that. By working together, by finding common solutions, by seeking ways in which all can profit, we can, in fact, move forward, and we can build a fair and equitable global trading system.