The University of Utah’s Office for Global Engagement partnered with the US Global Leadership Coalition to host a forum on Nov. 18 to discuss how U.S. engagement and humanitarian efforts abroad promote Utah’s economy.
Speakers at the event discussed foreign aid and the idea that as the U.S. offers a “hand-up” rather than a “hand-out” to other countries, it can secure an alliance while the aided country develops infrastructure.
Mayor Ben McAdams, who spoke before the forum, suggested that as these fragile countries become stronger, the U.S. can begin trading with them.
Speakers included U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, former State Senator Stephen Urquhart, a global ambassador from the U and General James Conway, who served as a four-star general in the U.S. Marines.
Utah exports roughly $13.3 billion worth of products annually, supporting over 387,200 local jobs, according to the International Trade Administration.
One-fourth of U.S. exports go to countries the U.S. has a free trade agreement with, said Hatch.
Sen. Hatch also discussed a concern that many Utah residents have — the viability of president-elect Donald Trump.
Hatch announced his support and confidence in Donald Trump, calling on the audience not to underestimate his aptitude. The senator also said he’s going to “see that he softens a lot more” on his harsh policy ideas.
Urquhart advocated free trade and discussed the reasons U.S. global outreach is critical to the success of Utah’s economy. Speaking specifically about Pakistan, he addressed the importance of U.S. aid to foreign governments.
“Pakistan is the country where people ask ‘why are we rendering assistance there?’” Urquhart said. “Their government is fighting every day to bring order and prosperity to the people.”
Urquhart said the U’s global outreach program, called Global U, aims to help their efforts.
Global U has partnered with Mehran University of Engineering and Technology in Pakistan to provide them with clean water and sanitation.
Gen. Conway highlighted national security concerns in Afghanistan and Syria. He said he believes that Islamic extremism is among the country’s top five greatest threats.
“There was no strong Afghani government, which paved the way for terrorist groups to move in,” Conway said. “Had we been able to avoid those un-governed spaces, perhaps terrorism would not have taken the routes that it did.”
Conway argued that U.S. outreach to foreign countries secures safety for Americans.
Speaking to the economic advantages of global outreach was Bill Lane, the former CEO of Caterpillar, which accounts for roughly $3 billion of Utah’s $13.3 billion exports.
Lane said the fastest growing economies are in the developing world and talked about the process of exporting goods to former recipients of U.S. aid.
“Because of U.S. intervention, they became richer,” Lane said. “As they start developing, their demand for American products skyrockets.”
Select business students from the U were invited to attend the event, as well as war veterans, legal attorneys and Utah business-people.
Lane, referring to the slogan of Caterpillar, a construction company, said, “Sometimes the road to development begins with a road.”