From birthday parties to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, balloons are a staple when it comes to party decor and celebrations. But the world is running short on the critical element that makes them float: helium. With all of the uncertainty in the helium supply chain and so few sources available, pricing has been volatile and shortages over the last ten years have been common.
For the United States and the global economy, tourism and travel are the unsung heroes of the international trade story. Tourism brings 80 million visitors to the United States every year and accounts for 10 percent of all U.S. exports. Globally, tourism is the third-largest sector in international trade. Above all, tourism and travel promote trade in international understanding and global goodwill.
Every February, two out of every three commercial bee hives in the United States are transported to California for the almond bloom. It’s just the start of an annual food pollinating bee tour. Anywhere from 60 to 75 percent of the bee population kept as livestock crisscross the United States foraging on the blooms of crops that will make eventually their way into our grocery stores and into overseas markets.
California almond growers have reason to worry about access to one of their biggest export markets. The Indian government increased tariffs on U.S. shelled almonds by 20 percent and non-shelled almonds by 17 percent in June. The increased cost is forecasted to cause a five percent drop in U.S. almond exports to India, impacting the 6,800 almond growers in California, who are mostly small to medium-size, family-run enterprises.
CBD is popping up in all types of new products from infused food and drink, to dietary supplements, lotions, oils, cosmetics and even pet treats. Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill may open up new avenues for U.S. farmers looking to cash in on growing demand for hemp-derived products, like trendy CBD. But U.S. farmers will have some catching up to do to compete in the global cannabis market.
It’s midsummer, a milestone marked every year by baseball’s All-Star Game. No sport is more American than baseball. While we import much of the lower-cost equipment for amateur play, there’s a rich tradition of high-quality baseball equipment made in the U.S.A. that thrives alongside imports, demonstrating that trade enables a diverse marketplace that benefits us as consumers.
Music festivals cater to every taste in the world, drawing crowds of music fans who travel from the furthest reaches to hear their favorite artists. You don’t have to cross borders to get cross-border delivery of entertainment services. Coachella this year featured Korean girl group BLACKPINK, Colombian performer J Balvin, and French producer DJ Snake among the American performers.
Nearly 3 in 10 Americans have at least one tattoo. When someone gets “inked,” the pigment injected under the skin is most likely comprised of globally produced and traded mineral powders and the industrial chemical called carbon black.
Working class Americans have been unable to compete for jobs demanding specialized technical skills, while the places they live have been hollowed out by shifts in global supply chains and the death of low-skilled manufacturing. So long as these workers feel left out of the economic mainstream, they will remain a potent political force, including in the upcoming 2020 election.
An architect’s style and skill doesn’t always win the day when competing in overseas markets for services. Some trade policies are like scaffolding protecting local professionals, but some trade rules offer support beams that enable global talent to build the vibrant cityscapes of today and tomorrow.