International trade is a hot topic everywhere, especially in places like Fort Worth where many companies do a lot of international business.

The representatives of three big Fort Worth-based companies doing international business think the pendulum against international agreements and trade will swing back again when everyone realizes that the economy really is global.

Speaking at the Fort Worth Mayor’s International Luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 1, Mayor Betsy Price was joined by:

  • Raanan Horowitz, president and CEO of Elbit Systems of America
  • Maria Mejia, senior vp and CFO of Ulterra
  • Phil White, founder of Cervelo Cycles of Toronto, Canada

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price (Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce)

Mayor White posed the following question: What is the future of international business in light of the nationalist movement with Brexit, the redo of NAFTA?

HOROWITZ: Short-term, you have disruptions and discussion about things like border attacks and the tariffs and treaties, I think it can have a negative effect.

You mentioned, Betsy, the amount of trade we do here from Texas and other places and we don’t want to disrupt that.

I think in the long-run, my belief is that a lot of those things cannot counter the macro market forces and businesses like us, or any businesses, are looking for strong markets, vibrant markets.

Texas and the DFW Metroplex is a vibrant and growing market. So, in the end, those metro dynamics market forces of trade, supply and demand, I think [those are] going to overcome the short-term tendencies of protectionism and barriers to trade.

MEJIA: This is probably going to lead to companies like us bringing more product back to the U.S. and maybe manufacturing more in the U.S. But, it may generate also some counter tariffs for countries that we do quite a lot of business with.

If we become national, and we start putting up barriers, they’re going to put up barriers.

You’re not going to pull back from the market where you are successful, but we will find a way to do business. I think international trade treaties are a critical part of our success.

WHITE: The world is changed since we started.

I think the challenge now is not to say that the problem is what we’re going to do about the Chinese; the problem is how are we going to take care of those workers who have been displaced out of their former manufacturing jobs. I think that’s the real challenge that maybe, as a government, that’s what we should be focusing on.

I’m a free trader. We built a business on a global model. We said we couldn’t survive just on the local model. We had to go global to make it work.

(The Mayor’s International Luncheon was put on by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. The sponsor was Frost. This article is a shortened version of a piece that ran in the Fort Worth Business Journal Nov. 3.)