CEO Column

Jennifer Safavian | The Future of Free Trade

Jennifer Safavian
December 19, 2022

International trade drives the American economy forward. And for decades, Autos Drive America’s member companies have been a critical component of the trade ecosystem, which helps create and sustain career-track jobs and new opportunities for American workers.

More than 95% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. It makes little practical or economic sense to put up barriers that prevent products made or assembled in the United States from being sold to those customers.

For instance, last year, international automakers produced more than 4 million vehicles across 31 U.S. facilities and exported 762,000 of those vehicles to 135 different countries on six different continents. Thirty-eight percent of exports went to countries with whom the U.S. has a free trade agreement. For the remaining 62% of exports, we have an opportunity to forge new relationships that would boost U.S. vehicle production and expand our ability to trade the critical components necessary to make the cars of the future.

Companies like BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo are making new investments nearly every day to expand their U.S. manufacturing presence and produce more vehicles in America for the global market. But their growth will depend in part on their ability to easily sell to drivers around the world.

In 2022, much of our legislative work focused on forging new relationships and bolstering existing ones with allies in Congress and in the Biden administration who advocate for strong trade policies. When it convenes in January, the new Congress and President Biden should make it a priority to rebuild and strengthen trade ties with our partners and develop new trading relationships that will boost domestic manufacturing, job creation, and enable automakers to build the cars of the future right here in America.

By eliminating barriers, Congress and the Biden administration can help streamline trade while creating opportunity for more American workers.

Empowered with the right trade policies, the United States’ automotive industry can help drive the world’s transportation future forward.