The United States should step up as a world leader and pursue a path of open markets and lessen trade restrictions to ensure a faster economic recovery, British Ambassador to the United States Sir Nigel Sheinwald said on Feb. 11 at UTSA.
Sheinwald spoke to UTSA students and professors stressing dilemmas in the Middle East, the importance of free trade, energy efficiency, rising global powers, and economic recovery. The ambassador traveled to Austin last week to promote United Kingdom (U.K.) -Texas relations.
Speaking on the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, Sheinwald said that Iran is not known to have nuclear weapons, but they have been running a uranium enrichment program that is supposidly for peaceful purposes.
“Iran’s true intentions are unknown and it is difficult to get a message from Iran because of its oppression and internal turmoil,” Sheinwald said.
Currently the U.K. has over 20,000 troops in the Middle East, second only to the United States.
“Like your government (U.S. Government), we believe that we must prevent Afghanistan from becoming once again a safe haven for Al Qaeda and international terrorists who plan to do us harm,” Sheinwald said.
According to Sheinwald, the British have been helping on the battlefield, but also they have been helping politically by aiding Afghan authorities to take action against government and police corruption. He said that America and the U.K. are in a particularly delicate situation in Afghanistan, with related challenges in Pakistan. It is important to provide assistance, but it is even more crucial to balance it without the nation becoming to dependant on foreign aid.
“We have to show a commitment to help, but we don’t want a Jeffersonian democracy in Afghanistan,” Sheinwald explained.
Sheinwald said that foreign aid efforts aim to turn the tide against the insurgency by the middle of 2011.
Sheinwald said that the U.K. and America have a very strong bond in international trade. British companies are some of the largest foreign investors in the U.S., and vice versa.
Despite our robust ties, globally the (U.S. and U.K. economies are still in shambles. Every week countries implement trade restrictions that weaken the global economy. Sheinwald suggests that we adhere to the counsel of the G20 Summits and the Doha trade talks, which could boost the world economy by $150 billion a year.
“Because we live in an increasingly interconnected, globalized world, we must work through these problems together – two champions of open markets, the UK and Texas – or they will not be solved,” he said.
Sheinwald said that rapidly emerging powers such as India and China provide many products for the U.S., but still lack in services and trade policy.
“By far America’s largest trade is with Europe, not China,” Sheinwald said.
China and India are quickly becoming part of the international system though, and according to Sheinwald the world can expect to see a major increase in their powers in the next five years.
It is also clear that China and India’s level of energy consumption is increasing, and they have therefore decided to pump money into alternative energy resources. Sheinwald claims that the U.K. is also putting a lot of effort into alternative energy. Three years ago, the U.K. decided that they would start to renew nuclear energy. Still, oil and gas continue to be important parts of the global energy mix.
“Despite what some environmentalists may tell you, I doubt that we’ll see a totally transformative technological breakthrough over the next ten years,” Sheinwald said.
Thanks to legislature passed in the 90’s by former governor George W. Bush, Texas itself is a world leader in wind-powered energy. The U.K. has also invested in offshore wind energy and has recently issued zoning licenses that, if realized, could power every house in the United Kingdom.
“If we can keep markets open and transparent, price our finite resources properly, and put our best minds together, then we have a chance of sustaining our economies long into the future.”
“The ambassador gave us a great first hand perspective on American-European relations from someone who has played a significant role in international politics. I was really impressed with our Honors College for bringing such a top-notch guest to UTSA, providing a great extra-curricular opportunity for students,” junior finance major Derek Trimm said.