Int’l conference encourages companies to go global
May 12, 2009
The instinct to restrict the importation of goods and the exportation of jobs to protect America’s workforce during the recession is the wrong one, insists economist Russell Roberts.
Roberts will discuss his views on what would be good for the economy at Zions Bank’s eighth annual International Trade and Business Conference at the Downtown Marriott in Salt Lake City on May 20.
According to Mark Garfield, international banking manager for Zions Bank, every company in Utah is affected by the global market in some way and understanding what is happening overseas can help local companies take advantage of opportunities and act to mitigate risks.
The bank works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Commerce in organizing the event and is able to draw national expects like Roberts, a professor at George Mason University and a frequent guest on National Public Radio and contributor to The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
Thomas Donohue, president and C.E.O. of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will speak as will Doug Goudie, director of international trade policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.
An example of how international markets affect local companies is milk, Garfield said. Declining demand for powdered milk in China is affecting milk prices and dairy farmers here in Utah.
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That’s certainly true of Summit County where milk prices hovering around $10 per unit of sale has already put one dairy out of business in Kamas and may force all others in the county out by June if hay prices don’t come down.
Many companies in Summit County do business internationally already including Skullcandy, Backcountry.com, Park City Icewater Company and Nutraceutical International Corporation.
In addition to the speakers, the conference will also host several service providers who can answer questions about going global including the cost of freight and customs, Garfield said.
Roberts said in an interview last week that globalization makes every economy stronger. The instinct to protect American jobs by turning to protectionism does long-term harm, he said.
"Protectionism is a way to get your neighbor to pay for your problems. If we give in to that, we’ll all be poor and live in a lot less interesting world and place," he said.
Roberts acknowledged that some jobs are lost when Americans import toys from China or export software programming to it. Overall, however, getting cheaper goods and services saves money that can be reinvested into different endeavors and keeps the economy strong.
"We don’t want to create a rigid economy," he said. "Cheap services allow us to create more opportunities for consumers and workers. We don’t want a static country where we protect people’s jobs no matter the consequences."
Some people may need to switch careers, but the innovations that have made American companies leaders in the global market were possible because we outsourced services, he said.
The cost of the event is $35 and includes lunch. Register online at http://www.zionsbank.com/conference or by calling 801-844-8573. Seating is limited, so early registration is recommended.