New Castle – Every day, it feels like our world gets smaller and smaller. Whether it is Russia’s war in Ukraine, the rising competition with China or the growing global hunger crisis, these global threats affect our own country’s political landscape and economy, making everything — from food and gas to mortgages — more expensive. As two Delawareans committed to the security and prosperity of our region, we both know that what happens globally also impacts us locally.
The war in Ukraine has had a resounding impact on our daily lives. Even before the war, food insecurity across much of the world was increasing. The World Bank estimates that 800 million people were food insecure and 338 million people across 42 countries were facing extreme food insecurity.
Ukraine and Russia account for nearly 29% of global wheat exports, and 15% of global corn exports come from Ukraine. Countries in the Middle East and Africa that rely on exports from the Black Sea are especially affected by the interruptions in exports. Following Russia’s invasion, the cost of wheat, corn and other agricultural products such as fertilizer have surged. Russia and Belarus account for 20% of global fertilizer exports, and the price of urea, a crucial input, has tripled over previous years. This has a direct impact on Delaware’s poultry farmers as the prices of critical inputs like chicken feed have climbed.
While we can’t control all global threats, there is much that the United States can do to ameliorate their effects, and even help to minimize or prevent additional consequences here and abroad. It’s why U.S. engagement on the global stage through diplomacy and development programs is essential to help promote global stability and protect America stability here at home at a time of great peril. Delaware is home to Dover Air Force Base, where our nation’s fallen are brought back to their loved ones. The State Department and organizations such as the U.S. Agency for International Development provide interventions and technical assistance to prevent conflict and increase economic well-being overseas, so that we only send our service members into harm’s way as an absolute last resort.
It’s why it is important that we have leaders in Congress, like Sen. Chris Coons, who is representing Delaware and our region on the global stage. Few senators are doing more — especially on a bipartisan basis — to fight for the economic and security interests of our country. From defending America against rising global authoritarianism to building new economic markets and connections for Delaware and our region’s businesses across Africa, Coons has become Delaware’s diplomat to the world.
Coons has long helped to advance democracy and human rights abroad with the Democracy in the 21st Century Act. This leadership will better equip the United States to address emerging threats and bolster resources and protections for defenders of democracy — and America’s interests — around the world.
This continued effort to bolster international cooperation and defend against authoritarianism also will help Delawareans to better compete economically with China. We know economic stability for Delaware and our business community is vital, particularly in a world where the competition is only growing. We need to ensure everyone plays by the rules. The good news is that international partnerships help us here in Delaware. In 2019, international trade supported over 20% of Delaware jobs. Exports also infuse money into our communities. Delaware exported $4.7 billion in goods to foreign markets in 2021, which was a 21% increase over the previous year. Delaware needs to ensure that trend continues.
Climate change continues to threaten our national security. Coons is bringing together Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to advance critical legislation to address this global threat —with the Senate passing the first climate treaty in decades. In September of last year, the Senate ratified the Kigali Amendment, which will reduce powerful greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons. This approach will improve our climate, while adding 33,000 new jobs and $1.2 billion in direct output to the U.S. economy, while also generating a 25% increase in exports of American-made refrigerators, air conditioners, and other products.
Perhaps most important for Delaware’s international engagement is Coons’s leadership role overseeing all international programs on the Senate Appropriations Committee. His leadership resulted in a 6% increase to the U.S. International Affairs Budget, after years of flatlining, and will be critical for making sure that America has the civilian resources to lead and protect the interests of Delaware families on the global stage.
When America leads globally, we see the impact here in Delaware. More jobs and money flowing into our economy means more food at the dinner table and the payment of another mortgage bill. Delaware needs strong leadership on the global stage, and we are grateful for leaders like Coons, alongside Sen. Tom Carper and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, who are helping lead the way. Delaware’s security and economy depends on it.
Matt Meyer is the County Executive of New Castle County, Delaware. Carla Stone is president of the World Trade Center in Delaware. Both are members of the Delaware Advisory Committee of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.