Opportunities Beckon, But We Must Seize Them

Monday, December 6, 2010 - 01:00

Al Driver

Editor

This issue captures the way out of our present recession debacle. We are beset by worries about how our nation will survive a split in government with no clear way to recapture the economic prosperity of a few short years ago.However, the articles and interviews in this issue provide the answer by permitting us to zoom out to look at the big picture of what is happening globally.There we see a new frontier of phenomenal economic expansion beckoning to us - and we are ready in so many ways to take advantage of those opportunities.

As one of the last draftees after victory over Japan ended World War II, the world might well have looked as bleak to me. I should have been depressed by the huge budget deficit resulting from bearing the expense of supplying the free world with the armaments required to win.Yet, we were energized by the opportunities unfolding before us -- and, ready to seize them as a result of the GI Bill and all the other steps that had been taken by government(yes, government)to help us seize those opportunities, pay off that deficit and emerge as the greatest power on earth.

Today, we are still the greatest power on earth and have even greater opportunities than we did in the wake of the Second World War. As we did then, we now need government leadership to unleash the full potential of business to take advantage of those opportunities - and the deficit will fade as it did then.

Why not a presidential "Opportunities Commission" rather than a "Deficit Commission"? Why can't the politicians understand and cope as they did only a short sixty years ago.?

In this issue, we look at what exemplifies those opportunities worldwide, namely the explosive growth of China, India and Brazil. But, they are only the leading edge of much broader expansion of opportunities to grow our economy as the populations of other countries see the potential for freeing themselves from poverty by using tools supplied by the U.S. and other developed countries.Read the words of Ambassador Zhang of China about the war on poverty in that country and the role U.S. businesses can play.

We don't need a GI Bill because our great universities are providing our students with the tools required to take advantage of those opportunities. Read about the India and China programs at George Washington and Washington Universities. And, read the words of Ambassador Zhang about welcoming U.S. students to China and sending Chinese students to our country.

What should an "Opportunities Commission" do? It might start by examining the list of self-inflicted wounds resulting from government policies decried by the Business Roundtable and Business Counsel letter and its attachments submitted at the request of the White House. These can be found on the home page of our website. It contains many recommendations that would again put U.S. business in a position to be competitive worldwide.

Explosive Growth In Developing Countries (Excerpts from some of this month's articles and interviews)

Brazil

"I see nothing on the horizon that would slow the explosive growth in its economy. It will continue to create wealth as it has in recent years, while addressing pressingissues like reducing poverty and improving the coverage of the educational and public health systems."

China

"China has gone through an extraordinary journey since it was founded, particularly during the past 32 years of reform and opening-up. Overall, the economy has grown significantly, resulting in greatly improved living standards, better educational standards and enhanced cultural sophistication for the Chinese people."

"The average life expectancy is up from 35 to 73 years. Illiteracy is down from 80 percent to below 3.5 percent. Between 1978 and 2009, China's per capita GDP has grown by over 12 times, with more than 200 million people in rural areas being lifted out of poverty. China is playing an active international role as never seen before."

"Chinese transactions continue even though our capital markets haven't completely recovered. Clearly there is a strong desire by investors to invest in Chinese companies."

India

"It's important to have a full-fledged center at GW Law that will look at treatment in India of some of the different areas of the law I described earlier and beyond - for example, constitutional law. It will also host events; a good example would be the major constitutional law conference held here two years ago that included leading advocates before the courts of India and Indian academics, as well as litigators and academics from the U.S. dealing with issues relating to the Indian constitution."

"Foreign investment in permitted sectors can be made either through (i) the so-called 'automatic route,' where no prior approval of any regulatory authority is required, or (ii) with the prior approval of the FIPB or the RBI."