Luther H. Hodges Jr., chairman of the National Bank of Washington, said yesterday that American companies have done "pitifully little" in the export business and that Washington is the only world capital not involved in international commerce.
"Washington is certainly becoming an international center, and there are those who believe it can be a great international city," Hodges said at an international business seminar. The country has reached "certain economic limits," such as little future growth in domestic consumption, Hodges said. "If there is to be growth at all, it has to be abroad.
"We don't think internationally in this country. We don't export."
Since Washington is especially involved in the services business, Hodges said Washington firms should be exporting services. "We have to become a far more international society."
American firms must seek new markets overseas and invest more in research and development and improve productivity at home, Hodges said. The government, business and labor also should strive for more harmony, Hodges said.
Hodges was the luncheon speaker at a seminar aimed at attracting foreign investment to the Washington area. The seminar was sponsored by the District of Columbia Bar, the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the International Trade Association of Northern Virginia.