November 8 is Coming: Assessing Candidate Trade Agendas with PIIE

This presidential election, trade is one hot topic. If you’ve eyed a newspaper or logged into a news app, chances are you’ve been inundated with negative (and incorrect) rhetoric about free trade agreements of past and present. As Clinton and Trump wrapped up scheduled debates last week, the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) measured whether they can walk the walk.

Specifically, PIIE assessed the impact of Clinton and Trump’s trade proposals. In a trade-dependent state like Washington, it’s essential that we pay these data special attention: 40% of local jobs hinge upon strong, reliable trade with other nations. Unfortunately for us, this nonpartisan think tank suggests a dreary outcome: “the proposed trade policies of both Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump…would deeply harm the American economy.”

Trump on Trade

Let’s start by imaging a 2017 where the United States elects a President Trump. In recent months, Trump hasn’t been shy about criticizing trade liberalization: he expresses interest in terminating the existing trade agreements the U.S. has with 20 countries and, at times, has threatened to leave the World Trade Organization (WTO). PIIE laments that “assessing the prospective trade policy of Donald Trump is difficult, because, unlike his carefully scripted opponent, he has often communicated his positions extemporaneously, with none of the usual policy paper backup produced by traditional presidential candidates.”

Under Trump’s proposed trade agenda, Washington would be the worst hit state in the nation losing 5% of private sector employment. Densely-populated King would suffer the most out of any county in the state – and more than almost any other county in the entire U.S.!

Beyond local issues, PIIE predicts a “profound” recession under a President Trump, including decreases in employment, local production, exports, and imports. That means farmers, manufacturers, and retailers alike would take a hit if Trump’s dramatic trade plan were implemented.


Clinton on Trade

Clinton’s milder trade plan focuses on preventing abuses of the United States’ trading partners and reforming tax codes to discourage job offshoring. But she, like Trump, is currently critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Even if she were to embrace it (as she once did as Secretary of State), Washington would have already lost $8 billion in the year it wasn’t ratified.

What Can You Do?

In a place like Washington – home to world-class ports, extensive agriculture, and aerospace hubs – it’s hard to witness such federal resistance to trade. With the TPP under fire, the most important step Washingtonians can take this fall is to contact their members of Congress to express their support.

A study we released with the Association of Washington Businesses (AWB) shows how important the TPP really is for Washington State: if the TPP were fully enacted in 2015, Washington’s exports could have been up to $8.7 billion higher and created as many as 26,400 direct jobs (and as many as 47,000 indirect jobs). The study also identifies specific Washington industries that would benefit the most: agriculture, which would see tariffs as high as 208 percent eliminated; software, which would see improved cross-border data flows and IP protection; and aerospace, which would see an increased demand as TPP countries’ economies grow.

The time is now to stand for the TPP. We’ve made it easy to write to your local representatives with our 30-second online advocacy tool: we’ve pre-written your letter of support so you don’t have to. Find it here!

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