On February 12, 2015, I attended a business leader briefing in San Francisco with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
At the briefing, Secretary Pritzker asked for input on how to build support among small- and medium-sized business owners for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement that the United States is currently negotiating with 11 other Asia-Pacific countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam). TPP will open markets, set high-standard trade rules, and address 21st-century issues in the global economy. By doing so, TPP will promote jobs and growth in the United States and across the Asia-Pacific region.
I recorded this video in response to the meeting, and launched the Share Trade campaign as an inquiry into how individuals might be able, through social media, to influence the national conversation on this topic.
In my experience as co-founder and CEO of Hello!Lucky, a San Francisco-based design studio specializing in letterpress greeting cards, I've gained experience in a variety of issues that TPP raises:
- Local manufacturing - for 8 years we manufactured our products in downtown San Francisco.
- "In-sourcing" - in 2013 we began "in-sourcing" our manufacturing and distribution to Egg Press, in Portland, Oregon, where operating costs are much lower and where we could create economies of scale through collaboration.
- Job creation and layoffs - when we moved our manufacturing, we laid off approximately 15 staff,who were like family to us; I'm personally aware of the impact on individual employees from changes in business structures and practices - as well as their incredible resilience and adaptability.
- Exporting and overseas operations - Hello!Lucky sells to a number of customers overseas, including Waterstone's and Liberty of London. We have experienced the pain of exporting, including high shipping costs and complex tax codes (e.g. VAT). Since 2005 we have also operated a small office in the UK.
In this video, I argue that TPP is essential for our national security and economic growth in the face of the pending threat of global economic and political dominance by China (China's currency is expected to be on par with the U.S. dollar by 2020, just five years from now). However, the importance of the agreement is being clouded by fear regarding near-term protection of U.S. jobs, when in fact the agreement would be hugely beneficial in the long term to U.S. businesses and employees.
To bring small and medium-sized business owners, as well as their customers, into the conversation, we need to look at it through their eyes, with compassion for their ideals and values. I've suggested two possible social media campaigns to attempt to do this:
I Make / I Export Video Campaign
Shop with Love Poster Campaign
Find out more about these campaigns here.
And, I've started some initial brainstorms / inquiries into possible policies that could help support trade and local manufacturing here.