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Life Gets Better at Forty (Percent)

As you probably heard, the Washington Council on International Trade and the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle released the International Competitiveness Strategy for Washington State on Tuesday. I’m tempted to say that we “gave birth” to the International Competitiveness Strategy, because it was an intense amount of labor and it took us nine months to finish, but we couldn’t be happier with our new bundle of joy!

Probably the biggest headline of the Strategy is the finding that 40% of all jobs in Washington state are tied to trade. To which all I can say is “wow.” Seriously, that’s a big deal. It’s a significant increase from the 1999 finding that 32% of all jobs are tied to trade, and it is a tangible demonstration of why we need to focus on ensuring that trade policy has maximum benefit to Washington state companies’ ability to succeed in the global economy.
es and on imports, the SWOT analysis of Washington’s international competitiveness, and the recommendations that offer a clear path to increase Washington global strength – and, in fact, I plan to go on and on about it…in a series of blog posts on each of those topics. I call it the “Getting to Know the International Competitiveness Strategy for Washington State Series of Blog Posts” or GTKTICSFWSSBP. Which is a terribly long and awkward title/acronym, but I never said that nomenclature was my forte.I could go on and on about the other parts of the Strategy that are fantastic – the data on servic

For this initial entry in the series, let me just say this: the most surprising thing to me about that 40% number is that it comes from a mixture of luck, happenstance and uncoordinated efforts. We’re at 40% because companies like Boeing and Microsoft are amazing at selling products and creating global supply chains. We’re at 40% because we’re geographically close to Canada and Asia and have natural deep water ports. We’re at 40% because we grow amazing crops in this state, and are very good at getting the rest of the world to want them. There is a long list of things like that, but very little that comes from a strategic, statewide, coordinated plan.

Which makes that 40% number such a tantalizing promise of what could be. What if we as a state were even more thoughtful about how policies, investments and collaborations could leverage all of our resources to maximum benefit. Think of how many trade-related jobs we could grow, and how many more people and businesses could benefit. If we’re at 40% now, could we get to 50% or 60% if we were really working together on it?

That’s the goal of the International Competitiveness Strategy, and so this week is only the start of what I hope will be a number of major new efforts to implement its recommendations. What are those recommendations you ask? Well, read the strategy to find out…or wait until I do a blog post on it…or at least skim the one-pager! And tune in next week for the next in the GTKTICSFWSSBP!

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