Keynote Address at the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Global Trade Conference

So my main message to all of you listening today is that if your company wants to invest in the United States, we at the U.S. Embassy are here, we’re ready and willing to help – and you know where to find us.

Chargé Yael Lempert
Keynote Address at the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Global Trade Conference
June 23, 2021

 

Chargé Lempert:   Hello everyone and thank you to the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce for inviting me today. I wish that I could have actually been there in Birmingham. But as the vaccine continues to roll out at an incredible rate, hopefully we’ll be able to have these conferences in person in the not-too-distant future, as we turn the corner on Covid.

It’s been a long road and it goes without saying that the pandemic has taken a huge toll – in all regions and in all countries. So many lives have been lost. Jobs have been lost. Companies have closed. Debt has risen. We’ve all felt the pain. And we all face the same challenge now: how do we rebuild? How do we turn that around?

You’ll have seen in the news that the United States is driving forward a huge range of initiatives at home to stimulate growth, including big plans to build roads, bridges, and rail links at a pace that we haven’t seen in generations.

We are also investing in the infrastructure of tomorrow, whether it’s supporting the production of electric vehicles, making communities more resilient to the effects of climate change, or expanding broadband internet access to underserved areas.

But the U.S. Government also believes that the other key to our recovery, is to look beyond our own borders. Because global trade matters and it always has. Throughout history, free trade has made America strong, and it has made our partners strong too. It lowers prices, it creates jobs, it raises incomes, and it strengthens relationships.

The benefits are wide ranging, and they are mutual and win-win. So this Administration is going to be highly focused on strengthening commerce between our country and others. We want American companies to flourish on the global stage. And we want foreign companies to be able to flourish and succeed in our market – the biggest consumer market in the world.

We’re not afraid of competition. We welcome it. And that’s a point the U.S. Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, has made repeatedly. We want to see global free trade flourish, we want to see a level playing field, and we want to see that bring mutual benefits and growth to all.

So as much as we’re striving to stimulate growth at home, we’ll also be striving to stimulate business abroad. And of course, when it comes to global business partners, for the United States, they don’t come much closer than the UK, our biggest investment partner of all.

Over the last year, we’ve seen our trade and investment numbers dip during the pandemic, and we want to reverse that as quickly as possible. And we’re already seeing some really positive signs that this is happening.

U.S. companies are investing big in the UK. In March, we heard GE Renewable Energy announce a major new manufacturing plant in Teeside. And just a few weeks ago, we heard Amazon announce they intend to create 10,000 new jobs in the UK. And just a few days ago, Wendy’s food chain relaunched their franchise in the United Kingdom.

And it goes both ways. We’ve also seen some great British companies announce their expansion into the U.S. Like Arrival, which produces electric vans and recently established an American Headquarters in North Carolina, creating around 150 new jobs. Or Ocado, which is investing millions of dollars in the U.S. and creating hundreds of jobs. Or Archangel Lightworks, an innovative, award-winning space company which is moving into Florida.

Our businesses are doing what they always do – even in tough times. They’re crossing the Atlantic and finding new ways to grow and succeed. And that’s what we like to see, and that’s what the team at the U.S. Embassy likes to support.

So my main message to all of you listening today is that if your company wants to invest in the United States, we at the U.S. Embassy are here, we’re ready and willing to help – and you know where to find us. But I actually do have one more message before I go. And that’s to tell you the biggest priority of all for President Biden’s Administration.

And it’s very clear-cut – it’s ending the biggest crisis we all face – the climate crisis. It is very clear that we only have the smallest of windows to take the action we need to stave off cataclysmic climate change. There is no greater or more urgent challenge than this.

And President Biden has made this the priority for every single part of our Government. Both at home, and abroad, this comes first. We are working extremely closely with our partners in Her Majesty’s Government on this. We’ve obviously got COP 26 in Glasgow at the end of this year. And that’s where we want to see other major economies follow the choices that both our countries have made to speed up the path to net zero.

But governments can’t end this crisis alone. This has to be a universal push. We need academia, we need civil society, and above all, we need our businesses. We need our businesses to cut their own emissions and commit to being sustainable and low carbon. But we also need our businesses to do what they do best of all – to innovate, solve problems and change the way we do things.

Now Birmingham, more than almost any other city on earth, is famous for doing just that. This is a city which helped give birth to the industrial revolution. And I know your businesses, your universities, your manufacturing and research facilities. It’s going to be a city which helps give rise to the green revolution too.

So the team at the U.S. Embassy looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, and individual businesses and organizations in this region, as our countries emerge from COVID and work together to come back stronger, to come back greener and to build back even better than before.