Pittsburgh, PA – Today, the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) Foundation’s Global Innovation Forum hosted a high-level business discussion in Pittsburgh, PA, on “Winning in the Global Economy,” featuring over 50 business and community leaders, with keynote remarks from U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. The forum examined the role of the global marketplace in the success of American companies and workers and how U.S. public policies can help businesses compete for the global demand, investment and talent to ensure that America remains the world’s innovation leader in the 21st century.

In a luncheon keynote address, Ambassador Kirk discussed the role of U.S. trade policy in opening export markets and helping small companies in America create jobs and tap into growing demand in high-growth markets abroad. He noted, “There is no more treasured brand in the world than Made in America. We need to make sure we take advantage of this tremendous international business opportunity by opening new markets, creating a level playing field for American businesses and workers, and providing the tools and resources to small businesses who want to export.”

Earlier in the day, representatives from companies, including Daedalus, General Electric, Google, and HP, and experts from iCarnegie Global Learning, Guyasuta Investment Advisors, and the U.S. International Trade Commission led a conversation about the role of global trade, investment flows and innovation in the American economy.

Pittsburgh-area businesses and educators described the challenge and opportunity of developing new areas of business in the modern innovation economy. As Gil Taran, Chief Executive Officer of iCarnegie, a Carnegie Mellon educational subsidiary, framed the discussion, “You think about what the global economy is demanding right now: Mobility, using robotics, entertainment technology, design, the interaction between healthcare and information systems, managing large scale data. People are looking to Pittsburgh for all of these things. Pittsburgh has been able to transform itself over the past 20 years to open itself up to these opportunities.”

Other participants discussed the role of America in creating high-value jobs in research, design, brand management and customer support as part of increasingly complex international supply chains. Companies emphasized several public policy challenges for the United States as companies and workers look to compete in the global marketplace.

Participants discussed the challenge of promoting respect for trade rules, protecting intellectual property rights globally, challenges to U.S. regulatory approval processes from overtaxed agencies, and attracting, educating and retaining an educated, globally-minded workforce. The conversation also led to suggestions for how to improve public policy, from providing tax incentives for R&D to encouraging strong legal and intellectual property protection worldwide to promoting a new trade framework to encourage the movement of information and e-commerce internationally to updating visa and immigration policies.

This discussion is part of a national series of discussions hosted by the NFTC Foundation at innovation and manufacturing centers around the nation thanks to a grant from the General Electric Foundation. The event was held in partnership with Reed Smith, Catalyst Connection, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, Pittsburgh Technology Council and World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.