Things That Go In Boxes

One of my favorite trade-related stories is the continuing development of “what else can we do with shipping containers.” We’re seeing stories about shipping containers used as commercial buildings, Starbucks coffee shops and even a grocery store opened by a WCIT board member’s wife! The latest addition to this story is the Seattle company that is focused on making these shipping containers into whatever their clients want: homes, food-storage units, retail pop-up stores and more.

This isn’t a trade policy issue per se, but it does help WCIT achieve one of the key goals of the International Competitiveness Strategy, which is to build community support for trade. How does this storyline fit into that goal? Well, to quote myself talking about the Starbucks cafe example (I’m doing a lot of quoting myself these days):

One of the great advantages of this Starbucks shipping container drive-thru is that it’s going to remind people where their coffee came from. Too often, we don’t think about how we got the bounty of products we have access to – from cell phones to clothes to out-of-season fruits – which makes it easier for people to forget why trade matters so much…and that we need to support policies to increase our state’s international competitiveness. So, essentially, this drive-thru is doing the work of WCIT. Thanks, Starbucks! (emphasis added)

The more that shipping containers are used to deliver beneficial services, the more that people will be excited about shipping containers. And that’s a good place from which to build support for trade.

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