I’m not normally one to sing the praises of American business. As often as not, if there’s some financial skullduggery going on you’ll find some corporate executive with his hand in the till. But I am someone who believes in our economic system. I believe that trade is a good thing. I believe that the more international trade there is, the more interconnected the world’s economies will be and the less likely that they would resort to the insanity of war to resolve their differences. I believe that people have the right to better themselves and their economic condition and that trade and business are America’s time-honored ways of doing so.
So while I don’t cheerlead for American multinationals, I am aware of the benefits that accrue from their commerce to their American workers. In fact, at one time here in Seattle if Boeing sneezed (as it did in 1969) the local economy got pneumonia. Because of the importance of international trade to the U.S. economy, it is helpful, as the NY Times reports, that some of these companies who have important trade relations with the United Arab Emirates are organizing to support the Dubai ports deal and lobby Congress to that effect:
The American Business Group of another emirate, Abu Dhabi, is set to announce today that it will send seven delegates to Washington at the end of the month to speak to lawmakers. The group has several hundred corporate members, including Lockheed Martin, Federal Express, the Hilton Group and Exxon Mobil…
The article expands on the increasing trade between the U.S. and UAE and the benefits it provides for U.S. workers:
Many American companies have had operations in the United Arab Emirates for several years, often with American employees, and they are relying on the region for some of their growth…
Exports from the United States to the United Arab Emirates grew rapidly last year, more than doubling to $8.48 billion, according to the United States Census Bureau. Some of America’s largest companies, including Boeing, General Electric and several large banks, have forged strong ties to the emirates.
Dubai is also a big buyer of goods from United States military and aircraft manufacturers. The Emirates Group airline, for example, is Boeing’s largest 777 customer, and placed an order last year for 42 jets, worth $9.7 billion. The airline is also considering whether to buy Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A350, with a decision expected this spring.
“The emirates are a very important customer to Boeing,” said Cai von Rumohr, an aerospace analyst with SG Cowen & Company. “They buy a lot of planes. They’ve also got a big pending sale coming up, and I’m sure that Boeing is doing everything it can right now.”
Dubai is “a customer you do not want to alienate,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group, an aviation and military information company located in Fairfax, Va. “There is a good chance that there will be Dubai-bashing and xenophobia in Congress. That could help poison commercial relations, and I would hope that calmer heads will prevail.”
This Reuters article details the UAE investments in the U.S. that could be jeopardized by congressional vituperativeness:
…The American Business Group of Abu Dhabi (ABG)…said blocking the deal could make Arabs hesitate before putting money in the United States.
The group…said it would send a delegation to Washington this month to lobby 120 members of Congress. ABG members include U.S. business people in the UAE as well as local representative offices of large U.S. firms.
“If the deal is blocked on terms that aren’t consistent with a due diligence process, that sends a loud and clear message to our friends that maybe they should rethink investments in the U.S.,” said Kim Childs, ABG executive vice president.
“We deeply regret what appears to have been an uninformed rush to judgment by some opponents of the transaction, as well as inflammatory language that some have adopted,” she told reporters in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
Among the deals that could be threatened is a $1 billion contract by a U.S. company for an early warning system in the UAE, ABG members said. They did not name the company.
While I normally believe in the power of the ordinary person to make a difference in the political process, in this case the average American as adamantly opposed to the deal. So I’m not averse to bringing in the heavy guns. The D.C. pols can afford to ignore us as individuals. After all, we’re not the fat cats writing their campaign checks. But American corporations are writing those checks and I don’t care if they’re the only ones who can have a real tempering impact on the idiocy that passes for political discourse around this issue. I hope they speak loud and clear and jawbone those congressional blowhards like crazy.
The Republican and Democratic attack dogs who’ve been foaming at the mouth about this deal should think twice about what would happen to all those trade deals if the emir decided he no longer liked the U.S. What would happen to all the U.S. workers making products for the UAE market? What would happen to their families if all, or even some of that business dried up?
I want this country to prosper. I want us to sell as many products as we can in foreign markets and bring those profits home to help American families. It would be a shame if we let American xenophobia shoot American business interests in the foot.