In Washington, D.C., and capitals throughout the world, the positive force of market competition often becomes clouded by regional politics and short-term self-interests.
Unfortunately, this nation, the beacon of free-market capitalism, has not proved to be the exception to this ominous trend of late.
Despite having long fought for and won a number of trade accords to provide a fair playing field for our goods and services abroad, some U.S. leaders now seem content to selectively thwart international engagement here at home. At the same time that we ask our counterparts in Asia, Europe, the Americas and elsewhere to open their markets and government procurement programs, we cannot and should not deny them the same ability to compete within our own borders.
Yet under the guise of patriotic slogans or calls of U.S. industrial defeatism, overt political efforts are increasingly being mobilized to establish new protectionist barriers against foreign competition. The reality is that foreign and domestic industries have converged internationally to take advantage of an ever-expanding global marketplace. The competitive result can be viewed in terms of dramatic new innovations, increased productivity and lower costs. And the aggregate economic effect can be seen from Main Street to Wall Street through increased investment and more open global trade.
The pending competition to procure a new aerial refueling aircraft for the U.S. Air Force provides a case study that highlights this evolving dilemma. Despite some initial hurdles, procurement officials at the Pentagon are now emphasizing an acquisition program that will best meet its technological requirements while providing the greatest value to American taxpayers. As with the majority of the commercial jetliner industry, the competition falls between Boeing and Airbus, both international companies.
For several decades, these two rivals have directly competed for contracts around the globe, resulting in better, more diverse and affordable products, as well as increased sales opportunities. The positive byproducts of this healthy rivalry should be allowed to come forth through the current bid to fulfill the Air Force's next generation of aircraft refueling needs.