11/17/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Creating American Jobs Through Global Trade

Today, America faces a choice--to reach out and seize the benefits of international engagement or retreat into isolationism. This choice is central to the competitiveness of the U.S. economy and the hopes of hardworking citizens pursuing the American Dream.

The best way to protect American jobs and create new ones is to see the economic opportunities that exist in selling to 95% of the world's customers who live outside of our borders.

The overwhelming majority of Americans derive great benefits from trade. An astonishing 57 million Americans work for companies that benefit from exports. One in five factory jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres on America's farms are planted for consumers overseas.

A major surge of exports is our best path out of recession, double-digit unemployment, and exploding deficits. We should set a national goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years. To achieve this goal, we must do the following:

First, enact the pending free trade agreements. If we dawdle while Canada and the European Union move ahead with their own trade accords with Colombia, Panama, and Korea, American workers will be put at a disadvantage. We also need to bring about a successful conclusion to the Doha Round negotiations.

Second, we must lend a hand to small businesses looking to sell their goods overseas. While a quarter million small and mid-size companies currently export, many more should be looking for customers overseas.

Third, we need to go on the offense. This administration will be stuck playing defense against isolationist initiatives until it devises a forward-leaning trade agenda of its own. Strong leadership is needed now to expand trade, backed by actions as well as words.

What happens if we fail to seize the opportunities of trade? The Chamber has just released a study exposing the economic cost--particularly in lost American jobs--resulting from the failure to approve pending trade agreements, Buy American rules in the stimulus bill, and U.S. refusal to implement cross-border trucking with Mexico. Half a million American jobs are at risk if the United States fails to move forward on trade.

On trade, we can't stand still, and we can't go backward. That's just one reason why the U.S. Chamber is launching an historic initiative--a positive Campaign for Free Enterprise-- to remind Americans about the importance of economic freedom to jobs, our economy, and our way of life. Expanding our exports and pressing for open markets at home and abroad will be a critical plank in this campaign.

We'll carry this message to the administration, to Congress, and all across this great land. We hope you'll join us.

To read how doubling American exports can create good-paying jobs, end the recession, reduce the deficit, and bolster America's global leadership, visit