The global production of goods can be charted by each stage at which activity occurs and value is added. The great news is that Americans excel at the activities on the production curve that require the most creativity and know-how, and that generate the most profit.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans headed to Starbucks for a seasonal pumpkin spice latte, the benefits of trade are right in your hand. Whether it’s Starbucks or a boutique coffee shop, the coffee we drink is imported. Because while the United States excels at growing many crops, coffee beans aren’t one of them.
Twice a year, the U.S. Treasury Department issues a report required by Congress that assesses the foreign exchange policies of our major trading partners. Our experts break down the key take-aways from the latest FX Report.
How can one bakery focus on selling this many flavors of macaron cookie? Production in our economy is increasingly specialized. Specialization requires trade, which in turn promotes more specialization. And, the greater the number of consumers and producers, the larger the scope for each producer to focus on a narrow specialization. That’s part of the story of trade.
Higher education is fast becoming one of the world’s leading “exports.” Many people may not think of education as an “export,” but when an international student comes to the United States, for example, the monies spent on tuition, fees and living expenses are considered “exports” of education services.
In 2016, the United States ran a trade deficit of $500.6 billion. If President Trump wanted to reduce the U.S. deficit with Mexico or China, all he has to do is change the way we count it.
If you were to take a guess as to which American metropolitan areas export the most, you’d probably be right: New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Dallas, and Seattle top the list. But, if ranked by exports as a share of local GDP, it’s America’s smaller cities that top the list – four of the most export dependent are smaller cities in Indiana.
You probably know the stories of college student entrepreneurs who made it big, from Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Bill Gates’ Microsoft, to the founders of Dell, Google, and Yahoo. I might not walk among these giants, but in the early 1990s, I ran a small biomedical supply company — out of my dorm room, where we managed to go global.
Americans like to play to win. When it comes to international trade, however, we shouldn’t use the size and trend of the national trade deficit as a way of scoring trade policy. It’s like using the size of players’ salaries to evaluate whether you had a winning season.
Sure, it’s good when American companies export goods and services to the world. But imports make many American-made products more competitive as well as enriching our lives as consumers – they are part of the secret sauce of what makes our economy work so well.