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.

As I write this series of blog posts on WCIT's policy priorities, one of the nice things is being able to draw inspiration from current news. You don't want to read State of Trade for obscure factoids...no, you want that same ripped-from-the-headlines feel that you get from watching an episode of Law & Order, except without the cool theme music. Of course, you might doubt my ability to apply that standard to the Affordable Footwear Act, since you don't necessarily see shoe tariffs above the fold in your local newspaper. But never doubt the State of Trade blog. Thanks to the Washington Post, via Seattle Times, I've got your major news story on footwear pricing right here. So what does this story tell us, what does it have to do with the Affordable Footwear Act...and what the heck is the Affordable Footwear Act anyway?

Last Thursday, the Seattle Times featured an op-ed by yours truly, entitled “Congress must OK trade agreements to create jobs in Washington and the U.S." It's a great chance for WCIT fans to not only read about the importance of swift action on the three pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, but to also see my picture (and a picture of containers at the Port of Tacoma...which one is better looking?). Of course, besides helping to promote the pending FTAs issue to Washington residents, my op-ed also came at an important time, since the Times also ran an op-ed opposed to the FTAs a few days before.

Working in international trade is, in many ways, the same as being an international man of mystery. As one of the many, many examples of this truth, famed move spy James Bond's cover story was that he worked "in the export-import business." (His fake company was called Universal Exports, for the true film nerds among us.) So, growing up, I always thought that the phrase "export-import" (especially when said in a British accent) had real flair and sophistication. Flash forward to today, when I'm starting a series of blog posts laying out WCIT's policy priorities. What else would I start with than one of the most espionage sounding policy issues on the list: the re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank! Now, sure, Ex-Im Re-authorization (as it's known for short) may not have a cool theme song or exploding pens, but - as far as international trade goes - it's one of the most vital issues that we can promote. Don't know anything about Ex-Im or why it's so important? Then read on and enjoy...for your eyes only.

I've spent a lot of time so far on this blog talking big picture. I wanted to give you a sense of what I consider to be in the realm of policies that WCIT needs to tackle. I wanted to...


Do y'all remember the PBS show Reading Rainbow? The host, LeVar Burton, would talk about his book recommendations, and then say "But you don't have to take my word for it"...and the show would cut to videos of children making their own testimonials for those books. That's exactly what I thought of when I saw these fantastic new videos from the Washington Department of Commerce promoting exporting by our state's companies. (Yes, I know that my mind works in strange ways).

Sorry for the post title, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. You should hear my schtick about the Port of Portland (or the Taco of Tacoma...it gets worse from there). But, in addition to being incredibly funny, the post title makes a vital point about the ways we need to think about international trade policy. One of the points I made during my interview for last week's Crosscut article was that people have a disconnect when they think about trade. They love exporting but they hate trade...even though one is a part of the other! I think that what they're really saying is that they fear importing, which they translate as "stuff that used to be made by American workers whose jobs were shipped overseas so that the same stuff could be made by cheap labor." In reality, however, importing actually creates a lot of jobs, especially for our state.