One of the signature events of the Washington Council on International Trade was always the "Senators Conference." So called because, well, it always featured both of Washington state's U.S. Senators at a conference talking about international trade policy. For example - as a fun, historical momento - here's Senator Murray's remarks at the 2001 event (the same year the Mariners won 116 games...coincidence?). It's always been the only opportunity for Washington businesses and organizations to gather with their DC delegation to discuss the trade policy issues of the day. And I'm excited that one of the first things I'm going to do in my new tenure is to bring the conference back...renamed the Washington Trade Conference to reflect the fact that it will feature not only our Senators but the rest of our Congressional electeds who all do so much to forward the cause of international trade on behalf of our state. A save the date will be going out soon for the event, which will take place in November. But if we're going to do the conference again this year, we'll need a theme. And I could use your help figuring out what it should be.

Three weeks on the job, two profiles in the news. First the Puget Sound Business Journal and now Not too shabby. But what I like about the Crosscut article is not just the opportunity to stare at my own headshot. Although, hey, nice smile. Instead, I think the article does a nice job of laying out out some of the key issues that our region and state face in the effort to ensure a strong, pro-trade policy environment. Your beloved State of Trade blog has already referenced many of these same issues: the limitations of trade data in terms of services and software, the resistance to increased trade from groups that fear the loss of American jobs...and, my personal favorite, the lack of understand that trade isn't just things that go in containers that go on ships.

This week, Publicola posted a news item on the travel expenses of Seattle City Councilmembers. Although there's nothing editorial in the article, it has all the telltale signs of criticism of government travel: 1) the outrageous sounding headline ("City Spent Tens of Thousands on Council Incumbents’ Travel"), and 2) the use of the J Word ("Junket"). It's no surprise, really. These stories come out all the time, getting cheap publicity to sell papers (or online ads) by stoking the ire of taxpayers. Meanwhile, it forces elected officials to cut back their international travel and/or institute "moratoriums," causing huge economic opportunities to be missed out on. What was that? Did I just say that "international junkets" are good? Yes, yes I did. Here's why they're essential to our economic and community success as a city, region and state.

In general, I hate to use the blog as a mouthpiece for press releases and corporate communications (it really takes away from the trademark irreverent, conversational tone that State of Trade is so dedicated to), but I thought y'all might be interested in my official statement on yesterday's progress. Here it is:
Today’s action in the House and Senate is an exciting step in the process to pass these trade agreements that are so vital to Washington state’s continued economic recovery. South Korea is Washington’s fourth largest export customer, with total exports reaching $2.8 billion in 2010. Colombia and Panama represent important, fast-growing markets for our state, with a combined value of close to $400 million in exports last year; this amount represents an increase of 180% over 2009. The eventual passage of these free trade agreements will mean jobs and increased revenues for a wide range of Washington state-based companies.

It's time, dear readers, to reach the final chapter of my "ABC's of WCIT" series of posts. We started by defining what an international trade issue is, and then followed up with an explanation of why Washington state residents should care about trade policy. So, if you get what the issues are, and you buy that they matter to us as a state and to our economy, then you should want somebody to do something to promote policies that help us be more successful. And, just like my parents always told me, I am somebody. And I have a plan to do something. Here's what it's going to be.

One thing that's true about me is that I love listening to sports radio. It's tough for a young, hip guy in Seattle to admit listening to anything other than NPR and KEXP, but I toggle back and forth between 950 KJR and 710 ESPN nonstop. In addition to getting my sports news and talk fix, I find it to be a fascinating sociological study of what radio advertisers think/know about the listener demographic. Here are the main topics of local sports radio commercials: 1) divorce lawyers for men, 2) substance abuse recovery, 3) "male enhancement" and 4) debt restructuring. It's a pretty bleak picture. So, imagine my surprise yesterday when I heard a commercial from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) advocating for a six year extension of SAFETEA-LU. Oh, by the way, it also featured audio from Presidents Clinton and Reagan.