The state of American business is able, agile, resilient, and ready. Those are the words from the new U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark, who predicted U.S. business resiliency in her first “State of American Business” economic preview for 2022.
“We need strategies to maximize the security, efficiency, and resiliency of global supply chains… while making smart decisions about manufacturing capacity here at home,” Clark said. “The U.S. Chamber is calling for a new movement of bold—and I mean bold—business advocates committed to defending those elected officials who dare to find the common ground necessary to enact durable policies that move our country forward … and committed to supporting pro-business champions in both parties.
We have to be as loud as the extremists,” she added. “We have to be as passionate about our interests as those on the far left and the far right. We have to boldly, proudly, and assertively put our ideas into the public debate. Because we can compete and win on the strength of those ideas.”
Clark dared politicians to follow the message of last year’s infrastructure bill, “which showed again that bipartisanship works,” she added.
“Let’s get on the same side in this competition for our future,” Clark implored. “The U.S. has enough enemies. Let’s stop being our own worst enemy. Let’s stop the infighting and show the world that our democracy supporting our American enterprise system is what made the U.S. dynamic, diverse, resilient, and strong”.
“Businesses are not simply competing to win today, but to build a better tomorrow … to propel our country and world toward a brighter future of growth, solutions, and opportunity,” Clark said.
However, despite the clear innovation, the resilience, and the dynamism of the economy, Clark said the nation has too many leaders who think the government needs to step in and impose a heavy hand.
Injecting a bit of humor into her speech, Clark quipped, “The market is not your mama—it won’t love you just because you exist.” Then she added, “You have to earn it. You have to add value, meet needs, and solve problems.
“The state of America business is competitive,” Clark said. Market competition was on display in the race for innovative vaccines produced in North America to fight the COVID-19 pandemic
“Who won? Clark said. “Humanity,”
Here’s the chamber’s message: be an enabler, not a blocker.
“Government can’t do what business does. It can’t take the kinds of risks businesses can. It can’t operate at the speed of innovation. It can’t create wealth or prosperity or new job opportunities; it can only redistribute them,” Clark emphasized.
Clark noted that talent competition is intense. More than 11 million jobs are vacant. She said CEOs say the workforce shortage is a crisis.
“We simply can’t move people from one industry to another,” she said. “We have to grow our way there”.
She suggested the U.S. double the number of legal immigrants allowed in this country, also more hiring of former convicts, drug-addicted people, and others outside the mainstream of society.
“We will make sure government supports innovation—not holding it back,” Clark said.
Winning the future means increased trade as well, she said. The U.S. has not entered a new trade agreement in 10 years, she said.
“Europe is charging ahead,” she said, “China continues to rise as a formidable foe. China has emerged as the top trading partner in Africa. There is no easy answer when it comes to China—we must compete vigorously around the world”.
America must stand up for its values and security and against unfair trading and regulatory practices, Clark urged. And the USA must cooperate on critical global challenges such as sustainability and public health, she added.
America must learn to overcome these challenges deftly. If it can do so successfully, Clark said it would be one of the defining features of American leadership in this era.