Correct Craft president and CEO Bill Yeargin spoke at a White House meeting of a dire need for improved infrastructure in the United States and the importance of free trade.
Yeargin has served the last four years on the Manufacturing Council, a group of 25 business leaders who advise U.S. Sec. of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and has been co-chairman of the Tax and Trade Committee of the council for the past two years.
“The infrastructure issue is simple,” Yeargin told Trade Only Today in an email while on a plane back to Florida from Washington D.C. “The U.S. has built our economy on solid infrastructure — roads, railways, dams, canals, ports, airports, etcetera — but we are now falling behind and the infrastructure advantage we once had is rapidly going away. The U.S. desperately needs to invest in new infrastructure.”
Yeargin called on Congress to choose any possible funding alternative rather than continue to do nothing about crumbling roads and bridges the company relies on to transport parts and products efficiently, arguing that the rest of the world views infrastructure improvement as an investment opportunity.
“Many of the developed and developing countries spend twice as much as the U.S. on infrastructure development and improvement as a percentage of [gross domestic product],” Yeargin said.
“We cannot allow decaying infrastructure to have a devastating impact on the livelihood of American families,” Yeargin said in an opinion piece he shared with Trade Only prior to publication. “Recently, Congress passed a short-term extension to highway funding. But this short-term solution is troubling for most infrastructure projects, which require years of planning.”
Free trade, and specifically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is more complex but equally important, Yeargin told Trade Only.
“As you know, Correct Craft has several companies that manufacture in states around the country,” he said. “Our largest plant and world headquarters are in Orlando. We distribute our boats in 70 countries. In my opinion, TPP is good for our country, our industry and Correct Craft. It will reduce tariffs in several countries that will allow us to sell more boats which creates jobs in the U.S.”
The trade agreement will bring Asian participants more closely in compliance with U.S. labor and environmental standards, Yeargin says.
“This is good for people and our environment and from a business perspective it keeps foreign competition from having an unfair cost advantage over U.S. companies,” Yeargin said.
Often, foreign firms are not required to comply with labor and environmental regulations similar to what we have in the United States, which gives them a cost advantage, he explained.
“TPP attempts to level that playing field for U.S. companies by imposing rules on our trading partners that not only protect workers and the environment but also ensure that our foreign competition does not have an unfair cost advantage,” he said. “This is good for people around the world and our environment.”
“Finally, I believe there is a national security argument for TPP” because it “gives the U.S. a trade advantage over China that will be important in the years to come,” Yeargin said.