Washington Trade Policy News Round-up: Architects and Foreign Language Students

Those of you who used to read my old blog, Prosperity Blog, know that one of my favorite things to do is to link to news articles that reinforce a point that I’ve been blogging about. That way, I look prescient and/or self-obsessed in your eyes, and at least one of those is probably true. Plus, it’s a great way to generate easy blog content for when you don’t have time to come up with new original thoughts.

And so, dear readers, I introduce to you the first of what will likely be many editions of a new State of Trade blog feature, the “Washington Trade Policy News Round-Up.” All kidding aside, there have been a notable number of articles in the last 24 hours alone that hit on some of the key messages that WCIT is starting to promote about international trade policy and its relevance to Washington state’s economy.

First is this piece in the New York Times’ Sunday Business section by Seattle architect Larry Goetz. (Again, those of you who follow this blog will soon learn that I get a shocking percentage of my information from the Sunday NYT business section…or maybe they get their inspiration for articles from my blogging!) The essay is about his experience with local firm NBBJ, and how they sent him to manage their Shanghai office for two years. Nice story, but the interesting point to me is just to emphasize this idea of broadening our horizons on “What is an International Trade Issue?” Architectural services aren’t something you put in a container and ship on a COSCO line, but it’s a growing segment of our exports which we need to focus on. And, when you talk about policy issues, how about the fact that, to quote Larry, “Since NBBJ is a United States company, Chinese law requires that we work with a local design institute in China.” A great example of how we need to think about ensuring that international business can happen as easily and directly as possible.

[By the way, speaking of exporting and China, in the same NYT was a front page article on how China is building the new Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland.]

The second (or third if you count that bridge one) is the Seattle Times piece on the federal funding cuts for international language education. The story is framed mostly as an issue of foreign affairs (“…the Arab Spring revolutions underscore the importance of an in-depth knowledge of world regions and an ability to communicate fluently in other tongues, school supporters say.”), but of course it’s also a major issue for international trade and international business. For an example of why it’s helpful to have a vibrant program in Chinese languages, see above. More importantly to WCIT, it’s an international trade policy issue because it involves federal funding and appropriations decisions…and – in the world of Washington, DC – appropriations decisions ARE policy decisions. For our state to have the resources it needs to be successful in international business – from freight mobility infrastructure investments to foreign language training – we must have a strong, targeted voice to highlight these kinds of decisions.

And that’s exactly what WCIT is here to do. And, the next post I do, entitled ““What Can We Do To Ensure Our State Is Successful in International Trade?” will tell you exactly how we plan to go about it.

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