Suzanne P. Clark: How Global Events Have Impacted the Free Enterprise System

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark explains how government leaders are protecting the free enterprise system from the impact of current global events.


Air Date: May 10, 2022

Moderator: Suzanne P. Clark, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Global events like the war in Ukraine and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact economies worldwide and challenge free enterprise.

During day one of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2nd annual Global Forum, the Chamber’s own President and CEO, Suzanne P. Clark, observed how global threats to the free enterprise system can impact business around the world, and what is being done to protect it.

The Russia-Ukraine War’s Impact on the Free Enterprise System

Clark noted that the war between Russia and Ukraine has “shaken the foundations of the post-Cold War democratic order,” sparking an international energy crisis, losing thousands of civilian lives, and elevating the global food crisis.

“Free enterprise, free markets, and free trade have a proven track record as forces of positive change around the globe,” Clark said. “The war in Ukraine is a searing reminder that these values are precious and fragile.”

To maintain our economy and uphold this system, Clark believes standing by is not an option.

“We need to unapologetically stand up for the free enterprise system that allowed our nation to build the most dynamic, diverse, and resilient economy in history,” Clark said.

America Is ‘Standing Still’ and Falling Behind on New Trade Agreements

Throughout the world, trade plays an important role in a thriving economy and global marketplace. As Clark puts it, “the heart of free enterprise engagement is trade.”

However, she said, the United States is seen as falling behind on new trade agreements, which can affect the world for generations to come.

“While other economies race to ink new deals, the U.S. has not entered an agreement with a new trade partner in a decade,” Clark said. “The current administration, consumed by caution and internal reviews, is doing little to change that. It is yet to pick even the lowest hanging fruit, such as trade agreements that were already underway with U.K. or Kenya.”

In contrast, she notes, many of our closest allies are forging ahead.

“The EU has 46 trade agreements with 78 countries; the U.S. has just 14 with 20 countries,” Clark explained. “For U.S. businesses to compete successfully in the global marketplace, a drive for new market-opening trade agreements is essential. Forty million American jobs depend on trade — half of all U.S. manufacturing output is destined for export markets.”

Pushing the Administration to Get Back in the Game

In a trade-dependent economy, Clark describes how the U.S. Chamber is pushing the administration and Congress to “embrace a robust trade agenda.”

“President Biden has committed to accelerating energy exports to Europe, and the Chamber is working with the administration and Congress to ensure this represents a long-term shift in American energy policy,” Clark said. “That means not only producing more American energy but also building the necessary infrastructure at home and helping finance energy infrastructure abroad. This is how we strengthen the energy security of our allies and partners around the globe.”

Clark believes America has been “too timid about using [oil and natural gas] resources to strengthen both our economic and strategic influence.”

“If you're standing still on trade, you're falling behind,” Clark said. “The American business community is surging forward, even if our government isn't.”