Senator Jeff Flake on International Business

Global Chamber Interview Prior to the Utah Global Forum on Cuba, Iraq, Exim Bank, Africa and More

Published Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Global Chamber® Salt Lake City and Global Chamber® spoke with Senator Jeff Flake prior to his presentation at the Utah Global Forum in Salt Lake," said Doug Bruhnke, CEO/founder of Global Chamber. The interview was conducted by our Executive Director of Global Chamber Salt Lake City and the CEO of Global Chamber.

Senator Jeff Flake is a U.S. Senator from Arizona, but his ties to Utah run deep. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he received a B.A. in International Relations and an M.A. in Political Science. He's speaking in Salt Lake City on August 26th at the 2nd Annual Utah Global Forum on international business.

Senator Flake sits on the Judiciary Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Foreign Relations Committee where he also serves as ranking member of Subcommittee on African Affairs. He served a Mormon mission in southern Africa and speaks Afrikaans.

After college he worked in the public affairs sector and among his roles served as Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Namibia. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000 and was reelected 5 more times. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012.

Some of Senator Flakes's documented stances on international business and foreign policy include the following...

  • Opposed economic sanctions against South Africa in the 1980's.
  • Helped monitor Namibia's independence process and saw that nation usher in freedom and democracy.
  • Voted in favor of the authorization of force bill against the country of Iraq in 2002.
  • Introduced legislation in 2007 that would have provided a path to legalization for illegal immigrants, granted temporary legal status to illegal immigrants who paid a fine and passed background checks, and created a guest worker program. He was removed from the U.S. House Judiciary Committee by Speaker John Boehner that year for 'bad behavior' but it was commonly understood it was because of his support for comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Supports the end of the U.S.-Cuba embargo and normalizing relations with Cuba.
  • Opposed to the Iran nuclear agreement (announced just this last weekend).
  • Opposed to Export-Import Bank of the U.S. reauthorization.

The interview topics and key questions are shown below. For members of Global Chamber, you may access the complete 30 minute interview HERE. You'll just need to download Music Player for Google Drive. If you're a member and can't access the interview, contact us.

1) Role of Government with Business

  • How important is exporting to American businesses and the U.S.?
  • What is the role of government in supporting companies to export?
  • What are you doing to help U.S. companies to export?

Senator Flake on helping exporters: "First and foremost the most important thing is to have corporate tax reform. It's extremely difficult to compete globally when we have the highest corporate tax rates."

2) U.S. Relations with Cuba

  • You've said "the more U.S. travel to Cuba, the better"... would you elaborate?
  • What does this now mean for Americans and Cubans?
  • How should U.S. companies be approaching Cuba today?

Senator Flake on Cuba: "I've always thought that if we wanted to punish the Castro brothers we should make them deal with Spring Break."

More from Senator Flake: "Nothing generates a faster route to democracy [than] the Cubans participating in the global economy."

3) The Nuclear Agreement with Iran

  • You've decided to oppose the agreement, and you've placed a statement on your website. Please summarize.
  • PM Netanyahu and House and Senate Republicans are against the agreement, and the world is nearly all for it. What are next steps?

Senator Flake on Iran: "I think the President will have sufficient votes to sustain a veto, so [the agreement] will go into effect."

More from Senator Flake: "I'm concerned the agreement ties the hands of future Congresses. I hope Iran will stick to the agreement."

4) Export-Import Bank of the U.S.

  • What do you tell U.S. exporters who need Exim to compete when there is no alternative to Exim financing? Since there is no commercial insurance market for small exporters (< $1 million annually), how do you envision helping smaller companies overcome that?
  • China supports their exporters more in a year than Exim Bank has done in 50; why help Chinese exporters by making U.S. exporters less competitive? Exim Bank has a history of supporting growth in developing countries, and so without Exim, our exporters are especially hurt in places like Africa.
  • And it's just China... most of key exporting countries around the world have some form of export financing to help their exporters. Aren't we just keeping the playing field somewhat level while bringing back $1 billion a year to taxpayers? That's very different from a subsidy, isn't it? We've heard it called a 'negative subsidy'.
  • Perhaps all U.S. exporters and certainly all Chambers of Commerce (US Chamber, Arizona Chamber and Global Chamber) are against your position here. Not reauthorizing will cause small businesses to lose business and taxpayers to lose $1 billion per year from Exim... why can't government work with business for a win-win?

Senator Flake on Exim Bank: "It only touches 1.5% of exporters; it's marginal at best. [And] it tends to favor certain companies. [And hence) the 'Bank of Boeing'."

More from Senator Flake: "I don't buy the argument that the government needs to step in."

More from Senator Flake: "Not every company will survive, that's the way the economy goes. I can't go out and save every individual business."

5) Opportunity in Africa

  • How should U.S. companies be approaching Africa today?

6) Immigration Reform

  • You've been a long time advocate... what's next for immigration reform?

Senator Flake on Immigration: "I'm hopeful we can move ahead with comprehensive [immigration] reform."

More from Senator Flake: "Unfortunately during the Presidential campaign we don't get realistic solutions presented. We're certainly not seeing that from candidate Trump and a few others."



Senator Jeff Flake is six time U.S. Representative and a first-time U.S. Senator (from 2012). He's from Snowflake, Arizona, which was named in part for Senator Flake's great-great grandfather. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.A. in Int'l Relations and an M.A. in Political Science. More:


Utah Global Forum facilitates dialogue on how businesses can expand beyond local boundaries and develop an import/export strategy to grow in the global marketplace. The program offers a breadth of content, bringing experts from across multiple industries, all with a single objective: move Utah businesses to the global business stage. More:


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