CCIT Adopts State Trade Policy Position
California Council for International Trade ''concerned? with the future of the state's role in the global economy.''
SAN FRANCISCO - 04/09/04 - The California Council for International Trade (CCIT) has adopted a policy position "in coordination with other organizations concerned with the future of California's role in the global economy."
According to the policy strategy crafted by the trade organization's Board of Directors, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger "should immediately request that the Legislature refrain from enacting any international trade-related measures during the current session that would anticipate the outcome of a comprehensive assessment of the policies and programs needed to promote California's competitiveness in the global economy."
The CCIT "will not necessarily oppose such legislation, but believes strongly that the best way to proceed is first to give comprehensive, non-political study to the types of mechanisms by which California can resume its progress toward global trade leadership," the Board said.?
Only then can the executive branch "propose a well-considered strategy to the Legislature, which otherwise might impose piece-meal solutions to the over-arching challenge of defining California's strategic role in world trade."
As a practical matter, the San Francisco-based CCIT "realizes that certain trade-related legislation may be considered in the near term, whether or not the Governor creates a task force to consider a state trade strategy.
The Board, at the same time, recommended the creation of an "International Trade Policy Task Force" - chaired by Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Sunne McPeak - that would work to "define state government's most effective role in advancing California's competitiveness in the global economy" and "further identify the specific policies and programs which should be implemented if state government is to successfully assume that role."
The recommendation calls for the Secretary to be given the authority to solicit non-state funds to support the task force's activities, including outreach and targeted research.
The task force, the Board said, should include "bona fide" representatives of California's international business community, university specialists on trade policy and economics, experts on transportation and logistical matters, and local economic development authorities.
The task force would report its findings to the Governor and the Legislature by December 31, 2004.
Among the issues the task force should examine, the Board said, is "whether the state ought to establish a permanent and politically independent World Trade Commission to provide on-going advice and counsel on adapting state government policies and programs to changing circumstances in the global economy" with "careful consideration given to how best to insulate the commission from political misuse."
The task force "should primarily strive to understand how international business is actually conducted, not how it is imagined to work by government officials with no professional experience in the field of global commerce."
In addition, the Board laid out several of the major issues facing the state's international trade community that should be of primary interest to the proposed task force - California's global competitiveness and its dependence on air and sea transportation, for example.
"What can be done to create the modern infrastructure necessary to facilitate the movement of goods efficiently while minimizing disruption to other aspects of commerce and how will an efficient infrastructure be financed?," the Board asks.
The Board also asks "if state-supported trade assistance services be provided on a wholesale or retail basis as past trade development activities often placed state trade officials in the mode of providing advisory or assistance services directly to specific 'clients'."
In doing so, the state "paid little attention to a wide variety of similar assistance programs available from other governmental entities, educational institutions, and volunteer organizations."
Should state government, the group's leadership asks, "seek more to coordinate a wide range of existing services provided by such 'partner' groups than to re-establish the previous hands-on approach" toward state export promotion?
"Ample consideration should also be given by the task force to the importance of incorporating into the state's K-12 system curriculum components addressing issues of globalization, including global economic integration.
Also, "should the state help smaller firms develop supply chain relationships with US-based multinationals as a way for small business to capture a portion" of global business opportunities?; how do multinationals "evaluate foreign direct investment options, and does California offer attractive incentives" to foreign investment?; do overseas offices "play an important marketing role in attracting investment, or are policy barriers a disincentive requiring solution prior to developing an effective marketing plan?;" and "to what extent do California's interests in international trade differ from those of the nation in general, and how can these distinctive interests be better articulated in federal policymaking?"
These "and many other questions should be discussed on a serious basis by experts before the Legislature undertakes debate of specific policies relating to global trade," the Board said.
The 45-year old California Council for International Trade is one of the state's largest trade organizations with a number of companies and organizations including Hewlett Packard, Blue Diamond Growers, the Port of Oakland, Wells Fargo Bank, Boeing, Intel, Solar Turbines, the Port of Los Angeles, the Crossborder Business Association, the Foreign Trade Association of Southern California, the San Diego World Trade Center, and City National Bank on its membership roster.
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