Top Lessons Learned from Leslie Griffin at World Trade Day

This year’s World Trade Day’s keynote was Leslie Griffin, ‎Senior Vice President of International Public Policy at UPS. She is also president of the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT).

Ms. Griffin’s keynote speech was The Administration’s Trade Policy: What Developments with NAFTA, U.S.- China Relations, and Other Trade Initiatives Mean for Indiana Business.

Forthcoming will be other recaps of relevant and timely presentations given at World Trade Day.

Here were the top lessons learned from Ms. Griffin’s speech:

"This president has been remarkably consistent."

  • Candidates often lay out positions on trade while on the campaign trail, but reverse course once in office.
  • This President has remained adamant in his efforts to drive investment back to the United States and has maintained a skepticism toward multilateral trade agreements, starting a discussion on international trade, keeping America’s innovative edge, and fulfilling past trade promises.

“Services trade accounts for 75 percent of our workforce and 80 percent of our GDP.”

  • Much of the fiery rhetoric surround trade in the US has focused on manufactured goods, which has been declining in recent years and has been a key metric used when considering trade relationships. Less focused on, however, is the trade of services.
  • 75 percent of US employees work in services-based industries and these account for 80 percent of US GDP. Services remain one of the US’s most significant exports.
  • In 2016, when looking at the trade of manufactured goods alone, the US had a $20 billion deficit with other NAFTA partners. When services were included with manufactured products, the US had a $12 billion surplus, as is often the case.


“When it’s easier to trade, more trade happens.”

  • Going forward, the US must pursue a more inclusive form of trade that gives small and medium-sized businesses and minority- and women-owned business more opportunities to thrive.
  • Some ways to do this include:
  1. Promoting e-commerce, which can help a small business go global on day one.
  2. Advocating for more simplified trade policy and process, including transparency, reduction in tariffs, and an automated customs process rather than a paper-based one.


These can all help smaller companies without the experience and resources of a larger firm take advantage of global opportunities.



On Tuesday, April 10, the Indy Chamber hosted World Trade Day in Indianapolis. The event focused on how current trends in international trade impact business in Indiana. It was attended by over 120 representatives of business, economic development organizations, government, academia, and the nonprofit sector.

World Trade Day is part of the Global Cities Initiative led by the Indy Partnership team at the Indy Chamber, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. The long-term vision is to put the Indy Region on a map as a city for global business by:

  • Fostering an ecosystem that supports global business by convening partners from around region;
  • Increasing exports from local small and medium sized local businesses;
  • Identifying and supporting foreign direct investment into the region; and
  • Raising the region’s profile by telling the region’s global story.

Interested in getting connected to go global with your organization? Contact Jennifer Pearl, Director of International Programs ([email protected]).


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