The leaders of two major economic organizations have expressed concern that executive orders on trade and immigration “could limit Utah’s ability to succeed in the global marketplace.”
A letter to members of Utah’s congressional delegation from Lane Beattie, president and chief executive officer of the Salt Lake Chamber, and Derek Miller, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, says “the way these decisions have been communicated is not constructive to building the U.S. brand and fostering a positive economic climate.”
The letter urges the delegation “to work with the new Trump administration and your colleagues in Congress to support reasonable trade deals and balanced immigration policies that will continue to help Utah companies succeed.”
With one executive order, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (GPP) agreement with 11 other nations along the Pacific Rim. Another executive order calls for a temporary ban on immigration and travel to the U.S. for people from seven Muslim-majority countries and for refugees. It prohibits all people with immigrant and nonimmigrant visas from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from coming to the U.S. for 90 days, and prevents the entry of refugees from anywhere in the world for 120 days, with an indefinite ban on refugees from the war-torn country of Syria. As of press time, it was suspended by a U.S. District Court judge. Critics have called the order unlawful and unconstitutional.
“As our elected representatives in Congress, we ask that you work with your colleagues to mitigate any possible negative consequences of these actions,” Beattie and Miller say in the joint letter.
The letter says Utah’s economy is strong largely due to free trade, noting that the state exported $13.3 billion in goods in 2015, an increase of 9 percent from 2014. Utah is fourth among states for export growth and nearly one in four Utah jobs are supported by international business. Over 3,500 companies export from Utah and 85 percent of those companies are small businesses, it says.
“Trade opens our landlocked state to millions of new customers and opportunities that would not be available in a closed economy. This is especially true in rural Utah where tourism and access to international markets are critical for economic vitality. We recognize the challenges faced by those who lose their jobs through the disruption and displacement that accompanies economic growth. But we support the Utah model of retraining people for growth industries, not retreating from global economic opportunities,” the letter states.
The letter also indicates that immigration also plays a key role in the state’s economic success.
“We support balanced and nondiscriminatory immigration policies that provide access to the best possible workforce,” it says. “Immigrants contribute their skills to help Utah businesses grow and bolster our economic strength. This is true for both high-skilled jobs and hourly employees. We recognize the role that immigrants play as workers and taxpayers and reaffirm Utah’s global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.”
The letter urges the senators and representatives “to help find tangible, productive and prompt solutions.”
“Utah,” it says, “is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We must continue to foster conservative business principles that favor competition and free enterprise.”