Luncheon with, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, JR., Mikael Damberg, Swedish Minister for Trade and Innovation, and Deborah Norville, anchor, Inside Edition, and best-selling author.

With the United States being the biggest export partner to Sweden after the E.U. and Swedish direct investment in the United States amounting to about $50 billion with 500 000 people employed here, the Swedish-American business community has a lot at stake when it comes to the trade policy changes promised by President Donald Trump.

On October 24, SACCNY hosted a meeting of two world leaders—U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. and Swedish Minister for Trade and Innovation Mikael Damberg—to discuss these matters at 583 Park Avenue. The luncheon drew a full house with plenty of press in attendance.

Deborah Norville, anchor, Inside Edition, and best-selling author, interviewed the Secretary who participated via Skype, due to being called to an emergency meeting with the President regarding tax reform earlier the same day. Ross and Damberg shared their thoughts on issues pertaining to international trade, from TTIP to innovation diplomacy, and the Secretary received a few hardball questions from the audience.

The exchange started out on a light note with Norville asking, ”You just came from the cabinet meeting, what did you all decide?” Ross quipped, ”You’ll probably hear leaks about it, so I won’t bother doing that right now.”

Secretary Ross spoke of market highs since the inauguration of President Trump and said there would have been further growth, were it not for recent hurricanes.

When Norville asked about tax reform and NAFTA, Ross painted a picture of the latter as outdated, pointing to the digital economy as one aspect that the agreement does not address, and financial services and natural resources as two others.

 

Before NAFTA came into effect, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico. Generally ranging between $4 or 5 billion a year. Guess what our cumulative deficit with Mexico is post NAFTA? One trillion dollars, with a ’T.’ That’s way too much.”
– Wilbur L. Ross Jr.

 

Regarding the possibility of loss of American jobs, were NAFTA to be repealed, Ross commented, ”Before NAFTA came into effect, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico. Generally ranging between $4 or $5 billion a year. Guess what our cumulative deficit with Mexico is post NAFTA? One trillion dollars, with a ’T.’ That’s way too much.”

After the interview, the audience had questions for the Secretary on topics including the President’s lack of cabinet appointments and stumbling blocks to TTIP. Concerning the latter, Ross commented that the administration ”intends to go forward with an agreed thing” and that the ball is now in the European court. ”Perhaps now Europe will be in a better state to negotiate,” he said, citing Emmanuel Macron in office in France, as well as the re-election of Angela Merkel in Germany as positives and Brexit negotiations as a retardant factor.

In regards to trade with Sweden, Ross mentioned the large deficit, that he said was, ”made up for by [an American] surplus in services and perhaps conceptually made up for by a Swedish foreign directinvestment in the United States.”

After Norville’s interview with Ross, Swedish Minister for Trade and Innovation, Mikael Damberg, took the stage. He spoke to the vital importance of trade between nations and of innovation diplomacy, given Sweden’s need for a consumer base beyond its small population.

”The backbone of our innovative capacity is that we have and cherish our international contacts.”
– Mikael Damberg

Minister Mikael Damberg

 

Fear of change and fear of trade is dangerous to Swedish industry, he said. ”We have to be open to the world. But we also have to give people a sense of stability and security, because change is happening faster and faster.”

The social safety net makes Sweden attractive in an international context, he said, it also provides a setting conducive to risk-taking and innovation within Sweden. Something that is clearly bearing fruit, given that about 12 out of every 1000 Swedish citizens now work in the innovation sector.

He further spoke to the business-friendly climate in Sweden today and the role the Chamber can play in the public-private partnerships that Sweden builds to spur innovation both at home and abroad.

”The backbone of our innovative capacity is that we have and cherish our international contacts.”

The Chamber would like to thank Newmark Knight Frank and
David E.R. Dangoor for their generous sponsorship of this event.

 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr.
and Deborah Norville, Inside Edition

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