OIT Times: Global Markets and Industries--Export Opportunities are Abundant
March 23, 2001
Karen Walker, with the State Department Office of Commercial and Business Affairs, moderated this highly informative session on conditions and outlooks in key overseas markets.
Europe. Frank Vargo, Vice President for International Economic Affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers, described Europe unrealized potential for economic growth, which he attributes to a risk-averse citizenry and a regulatory system designed to maintain the status quo. U.S. exporters can look to Europe with optimism, however. Deregulation of telecommunications and energy systems is finally coming to Europe, and as information technology is adopted, European productivity will take off. Consumer demand and industrial output in Eastern Europe will also help make Europe a new growth engine after Asia and Latin America.
Asia. Ken Richeson, Executive Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council, made a clear case for the critical value of the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN) to U.S. trade. Representing a population of 500 million and $720 billion in two-way trade, ASEAN markets are large and growing, having overcome the 1997 monetary crisis. The growth rate of U.S. exports to ASEAN since 1990 has exceeded that of all other comparably sized markets except China. While growth may slow over the next two years, the region is still expected to grow faster than the U.S. and Europe.
ASEAN is strengthening its competitiveness by establishing an ASEAN Free Trade Area, streamlining customs procedures, expediting approval of investment projects, liberalizing trade in services within the region, and developing an ASEAN Investment Area to facilitate capital investment. Stronger U.S. involvement in ASEAN markets will support the emergence of market economies, continued democratization, and regional stability.
Latin America. Michael Magan, Managing Director for the Western Hemisphere with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the flow of trade and investment between the U.S. and Latin America has never been greater. Two-way trade with Mexico is now triple pre-NAFTA levelsith over $250 billion in trade last year. The star economic performers in Central America, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are heavily dependent on the U.S. economy. The Caribbean basin has become the third largest U.S. export market. In South America, the outlook varies by country. Many Latin American countries are entering into free trade agreements with other nations, putting U.S. trade at a disadvantage. If President Bush pushes through the Free Trade for Americas Agreement (FTAA), Magan expects a re-energizing of U.S. trade and economic reforms throughout the region.