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 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.

It's time once again for a regular feature here on the State of Trade blog: the Washington Trade Policy News Round-Up. Or "here's a bunch of stuff about trade that I noticed and wanted to point out." It's a totally unscientific look at stories in the news that I happened to see, and how they impact trade policy in our state. Of course, on this lovely summer Friday afternoon, what better trade policy topics could there be than coffee and wine?

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.