Globalization and free trade have "produced an era of unprecedented, worldwide economic growth," said Chris Lytle, executive director of the Port of Oakland in the US western state of California, calling free trade "the backbone of worldwide economic growth."
He made the remarks when addressing an audience of 5,000 graduates of Central Washington University at Kent in Washington state over the weekend, according to the press release posted on the website of the Port of Oakland.
The trade executive urged the graduates to embrace globalization, saying "globalization is the story of the 21st century."
He called on the graduates to explore opportunities worldwide as they embark on careers, and to help combat the spread of protectionist measures that could jeopardize their future.
"Don't disengage from the world -- don't be part of the illogical rush to draw the drapes and turn out the lights," he said.
He said that free trade and the world economy are "what's right for a world struggling to come together ... not pull apart."
The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport, Oakland international airport, and 20 miles of waterfront. Its seaport serves as one major ocean gateway for international containerized cargo shipments in the San Francisco Bay.