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In 1897, when The Dow Chemical Company first opened its doors in Michigan, our founder most likely wouldn’t have known that more than a century later, Dow would be one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers. Today, we employ more than 24,000 employees at 73 sites across the United States. These employees manufacture approximately 14,000 unique products that are exported to more than 120 countries across the globe.
On Thursday, I joined U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis Marcus Jadotte at our Dow Louisiana St. Charles Operations site, located on the Mississippi, just up the river from New Orleans. The Assistant Secretary along with Johnny Chavez, the St. Charles Operations site director, and I met with Dow employees to discuss the role trade has played in helping Dow grow, innovate, and support our U.S. workforce. We also talked about global competitiveness and the need for a level playing field around the world—now and in the future.
In my role as president of Dow USA, our growth strategy is my number one priority. When I think about how Dow can continue to build on its previous success, I think about two things: our investments and the need to grow and cultivate our customer base. The United States is home to 56 percent of Dow’s global manufacturing operations. We have a very strong domestic customer base, but much of our future customer base lies outside U.S. borders. In fact, 95 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of its purchasing power are outside of the United States. Having access to customers in these markets is key for our continued business growth.
When it comes to resources, Dow is aggressively investing right here in the United States. The most recent example is our $6 billion investment in the Gulf Coast, which will yield new production facilities and new jobs in Louisiana and Texas. It also means stronger economies for those states and the United States as a whole.
Although we can control where and how much to invest, Dow has less control over increasing our access to global consumers through new trade agreements. That responsibility falls to Congress and the president. President Obama has been working hard to negotiate new trade agreements with the Asia-Pacific region and Europe that would lower or eliminate barriers to export for Dow products and the products of thousands of other U.S. businesses both large and small.
We’re encouraged by the efforts of the president and the support of the Commerce Department in highlighting the benefits of trade. Global customers are critical to Dow’s continued growth, and new trade agreements hold the promise for Dow to succeed for another century. At Dow, we have been working to generate support in Congress for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation. With TPA, the United States has a stronger hand at the negotiating table to bring home trade deals that will benefit American companies and workers.