Remember back in grade school when, as soon as you came back in September, your teacher would assign you to write a paper about "what I learned on my summer vacation?" Well, I just got back from a three day trip to Eastern Washington to talk international trade, and I feel compelled to submit a similarly themed assignment (especially since the start of the school year is right around the corner!).
And, like how I approached most of my school assignments, I'm going to do the least possible work. So, instead of a blow-by-blow account (which I did via Twitter along the way at #WCITinEasternWA), I'll just give you my top three lessons about Eastern WA and international trade:
WCIT staff is on a three day trek around the eastern part of Washington state to meet with members, stakeholders and other folks generally interested in trade (whether they know it or not). If you want to follow the blow...
Every so often, an industry will decide that some of its stakeholders will need to pay more than their fair share for the greater good. The Seattle Times was very familiar with that concept, until it finally got rid of its Joint Operating Agreement with the Seattle P-I. The New York Yankees know that part of their revenues are going to help the Pittsburgh Pirates sign Andrew McCutcheon to a long term deal. But I find it hard to think of any example of a "redistribution of wealth" that disadvantages a certain subset of players more than the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) hurts Washington's ports.
And yet, like so many of these situations, there's not necessarily an easy solution to the problem. Let's explore in this latest installment of our blog series on WCIT's policy priorities.
No, seriously, I mean it. This isn't one of those "why is a raven like a writing desk?" questions (Alice in Wonderland reference, btw). I think this is a potentially interesting and vital question at the intersection of two major national policy debates: 1) how do we structure our nation's international trade policy to maximize our global economic competitiveness and 2) how do we structure our nation's immigration policy to...maximize our global economic competitiveness (assuming that we're talking about the rational debate on the latter, rather than just straight up resistance to immigrants per se).
And not only do I think that immigration policy is intrinsically linked to our country's success in international trade, but I also think that Washington is one of the states that is most impacted by this intersection. Here's three reasons why:
Back in my days writing for the Prosperity Blog on Puget Sound economic development issues, I had a weekly featured called REDEW: the Random Economic Development Email of the Week. Whatever the most interesting economic development related email I received that week, I'd blog about it.
Welcome to a similar new feature here on the State of Trade blog: TEOW - the Trade Email of the Week. Weekly (or so), I'll entertain and educate you with something unique, important and relevant to trade that pops through my inbox unexpectedly. This week's inaugural feature? "Washington State wine industry launches first-ever promotional campaign in India!"
Sometimes my blog titles are so clever and witty that you don't know what the post is about until you start reading it. "You Down with TPP? (Yeah, You Know Me!)" might be one example of that.
But this post title...
In my first month and a half on the job as president of the Washington Council on International Trade, I've had the opportunity to talk to a lot of folks about a) trade policy and b) the role of WCIT. On the former, the answers have been broad, as this list of WCIT policy priorities can attest - from the Affordable Footwear Act to Russian WTO Accession (if only there was a policy priority that started with Z so that I could have said "from the Affordable Footwear to the Zoo Import Case" or something...too bad).
But on the second question of our role, I've heard a lot of folks say that WCIT needs to be the counterpoint in the argument over "whether trade is good or bad." But I totally disagree. "Is trade good or bad" is the absolute wrong question to be asking.
State of Trade isn't often a venue for basic trade data. Sure, WCIT uses a lot of data in its analysis of various trade policies, but there's plenty of other repositories of trade data for you to check out. And, if you can't find it, feel free to give a call and we'll help you!
But I just received an email with a couple of interesting stats about trade in Washington, so I thought I'd pass them along.
Every industry has its set of confusing and obscure acronyms. In the world of economic development, we often talk about STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering and math), which are the key to job creation in Washington's economy (especially now). In baseball, we've got BABIP and VORP: "batting average for balls in play" and "value over replacement player" respectively.*
International trade is certainly no different. Hopefully, the least confusing acronym to you is WCIT (Washington Council on International Trade...hint: you're reading their blog right now), but it gets harder from there. TPA, FTA, USTR, GSP...OMG!**
While I'm not going to do a series of blog posts breaking down acronyms for you, I am in the middle of a series of blog posts on WCIT's policy priorities. And one of our major areas of focus these days is TPP: the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So, sit back with your BFF and learn everything you need to know about this important (IMHO) issue.
When I'm out in the community speaking on international trade, I always use my patented line that "international business = international trade," and I list the examples of industries that folks may not think of when they think of trade: architecture, tourism...and global health and development.
That last example usually gives people pause, because global health and development organizations are usually nonprofits that are focused on helping people, not making money off of them. But think about it. The global health sector alone in our state employs over 3,000 people with $4.1 billion in economic impact, which is all created because of the work that they do in and on behalf of people overseas. If that's not part of the trade economy, I don't know what is.
But there's another side to the relationship that's not just related to how many jobs there are in this state because of these activities. It's the fact that trade and global development activities are essential complements to each other.