Posts Tagged ‘Trade’


Gallup: Americans Upbeat About Trade

A February poll by Gallup showed that Americans continue their view of trade as an opportunity for the American economy (58%) as opposed to it being a threat (34%).

This is significant because not too many people think about the impact trade has on local economies.

Miami NBC station understands local and global events have a connection

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Congrats to NBC Miami. They see a world beyond their local beat.

The station ran a story today about how Brazil is now the No. 1 trading partner with Florida. (Brazilian Businesses Booming in South Florida) (And that doesn’t count all the Brazilian tourists that are flooding into Florida creating jobs in Florida.)

Here is another example of how a local news organization uses local information to build on an international story.

FYI: According to the U.S. International Trade Administration, while Brazil is the #1 international trader with Florida, Florida is the #2 exporter of U.S. goods and services to Brazil. (Texas is the #1 exporter.)

It is a pity that so few local news organizations have taken the time to use the occasion of Pres. Obama’s trip to South and Central America to look at how the politics and economies of that area directly affects their own local areas.

BTW, Besides being the #2 exporter from the United States to Brazil (value $7.2 billion), Florida is also the #2 U.S. exporter to Chile (value $2.8 billion) and ranks as #1 to El Salvador (value $2.4 billion). And it took me less than five minutes to get that information. Now think about how much those export sales add to the income of the state and how much the state budget would be hurt if those exports were cut or ended.

Local-Global: China investments in the States. Where are the U.S. media?

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Why is it that it takes the BBC to do a story about how Chinese investments in the United States create jobs?

China President Hu Jintao set to visit Barack Obama in US

We have President Hu coming to the United States to visit President Obama and the U.S. Congress but on the day before Hu’s arrival, there are no scene setters or even a look at the political or economic relationship between the two countries. (Maybe those stories will be run on the day Hu arrives. One can only hope.)

But the China-US story is not just an aggressive Chinese military or massive violations of human rights or of U.S. jobs lost to Chinese factories. As the BBC report points out, it is also about Chinese investment in U.S. jobs.

I like the fact that the BBC reporter went to Indiana to profile a factory that went from 15 people to more than 400 employees. That is job creation thanks to free trade and open borders.

If the anti-trade, pro-isolationists get their way, all those U.S. dollars that are being sent to China for goods or for debt will go to some other country. Whenever a country makes itself unfriendly to foreign investment or foreign products, it always hurts itself much more than it hurts it erstwhile trading partners.

It would be nice if we could see more reporting in the U.S. about the complex nature of trade instead of the too often one-sided “they are taking jobs from us” reports.

Where is the reporting on international links to job creation?

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

The Gallup Organization just released new numbers about what the American people are most concerned about. To no one’s surprise the economy and unemployment top the list.

Americans Want Congress, Obama to Tackle Economic Issues

The numbers are stark:

And yet I seem to see little reporting on the impact trade has on the economy and unemployment.

Well, that is not completely accurate.

We constantly hear how U.S. jobs are lost to cheap-labor countries such as China and Vietnam.

What does not seem to be talked about, however, are the jobs that are created with international trade.

The U.S. Treasury Department estimates there are about 50 million Americans whose jobs are tied to exports of goods and services.

That can be anything from poultry farmers sending chicken feet to China to architects designing new buildings in Qatar.

But there is more to the trade issue than just jobs related to exports.

Think about the jobs created because of direct investment in the United States.

In a study Honda did in 2009 about the economic impact its investments in the United States had on jobs, the company reported that its direct investments in the United States resulted in 368,000 jobs providing $17 billion in annual wages and salaries.

Remember, that number is ONLY the DIRECT effect of Honda’s investment. That number includes employees at the Honda assembly plants in the States and the dealerships that sell the Honda products.

Look deeper and you might see a larger effect.

Because these 368,000 people have jobs and income, they have an impact on their local economies.

Let’s say Honda lays off half of the 152,000 people who work in its Ohio facilities. Think about how that will hurt the local grocery stores, the local tax base, the local beauty shops, bars, etc.

Take my hometown of Detroit. Yep it is a basket case. And imports played a role in hammering the city. Yet, today the Motor City is also the site of massive changes.

Recently I saw a report that at least one call center was opening in Detroit instead of India or China. The manager said the infrastructure is in place and the workforce is educated. And the people need and want work.

Add to that a recent report that showed that one in three new start-ups in Michigan were created by immigrants.

So immigrants are helping rebuild the American economy.

Foreign investors are helping rebuild the American economy.

But where are the stories in the mainstream media?

What we see instead are stories about uniformed members of Congress and the general public who say we need tighter rules against immigrants and foreign investment. Or that imposing tariffs against imported goods is the way to protect American jobs. The promoters of such views, of course are forgetting (or not realizing) that other economies will counter-impose tariffs against our goods and services.

In the end, the isolationist views of blocking immigration, imports and investments will put more people out of work and damage the U.S. economy even more.

Around the country in small and large towns there are similar stories. It just takes a reporter and editor/producer with a bit of imagination to see past the LOCAL! LOCAL! LOCAL! mantra of the bean counters.

If the American people are concerned about jobs and the economy, why aren’t news organizations looking at the immigrant communities and foreign investors. And asking, why are these people willing to risk their lives and money in the United States instead of some other country.

And these are LOCAL stories. They just have an international angle.

There is a whole world out there and every side street in the United States is tied to it. Unfortunately, the reporting too often does not accurately reflect that reality.

Wikileaks cables highlight how U.S. diplomats help U.S. economy

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

A lot has been said about the Wikileaks cables and how they have — at a minimum — hurt the ability of U.S. diplomats to do their jobs. (A position I still hold.)

Most of the cables would have been declassified 10 years after they were written so anyone interested would have been able to see everything we are seeing today.

But that is just the problem — that “anyone interested” part. Damn few people in the States seem interested. (Unless they have a political agenda.)

Thanks to Wikileaks more people are now paying attention to what U.S. diplomats do. And how that work affects local situations.

A recent story in the New York Times showed how closely domestic and international affairs are linked. (Diplomats Help Push Sales of Jetliners on the Global Market)

Anyone who pays even the slightest attention to domestic economic affairs should know that the U.S. economy depends on trade. That means imports and exports. That means trade agreements and the ability to sell goods and services overseas.

And just how do you think the agreements that allow for imports and exports happen? Yep, through the work of the foreign services of a number of U.S. government agencies.

The Trade Representative Office works to make sure that our trade partners adhere to the trade treaties the sign with us.

The State Department negotiates the treaties and protects U.S. interests abroad. (Government and business.)

The Foreign Commercial Service (Commerce Department) has offices around the world promoting the sales of U.S. products from fortune cookies (yes, really) to aircraft.

The Agriculture Department has offices in most of the major U.S. embassies promoting U.S. agricultural sales as well as working to ensure the safety of food imported into the United States. (BTW, did you know that Wisconsin ginseng is more popular in China than Korean or Chinese ginseng?)

So why is there so much talk about cutting the foreign affairs’ budgets? I can only think it is out of pure ignorance of what the U.S. foreign service agencies do for the American government, people and businesses.

As I have stated before, foreign affairs does not have a constituency that can speak for it before Congress. The Pentagon hands out contracts to all 435 Congressional districts. And all the other agencies deal with domestic issues that voters can see and understand.

Unfortunately, the U.S. media have not helped the situation. Years of neglect about why events in the rest of the world mean anything to the American people have given us a generation (or more) of globally unaware people and leaders.

The amazing thing about the NYTimes story linked above is that the Times is treating this as news. As the article said, “It is not surprising that the United States helps American companies doing business abroad, given that each sale is worth thousands of jobs and that their foreign competitors do the same.”

Interestingly, the article focused on the sale of Boeing passenger jets. Yet there are also a number of Wikileaks cables that deal with the sale of U.S. military hardware. And this is just as important to keeping U.S. factories working.

Too bad they missed that little tidbit.

The authors find the details to be interesting. And they are. But, again, anyone who paid attention to such things did not need Wikileaks to get this kind of information.

But with media groups cutting budgets and bean counters screaming, “Local! Local! Local!” the resources are just not available to do the stories that explain to readers/viewers/listeners the connection between overseas’ events and their local economy on a regular basis.

So I guess even the harshest critics of Wikileaks should be thankful that finally the media are beginning to do some stories that show the domestic impact of what the foreign services do overseas. (I don’t really expect to see many more like the story mentioned above, but it would be nice.)

U.S. bank actions against embassies could affect foreign news bureaus

Seems the American public is not the only ones being screwed by the banks.

Earlier this month Bank of America closed the accounts of the embassy and consulates of Angola in the United States. The accounts were closed Nov. 9 after the bank warned the Angolans of the decision with an unsigned letter. The bank gave no explanation for its action.

The most likely reason: Banks are calculating that the effort spent making sure government accounts are not being abused for money laundering purposes is too complicated and costly to justify keeping the accounts.

And it looks as if Angola is not the only one being hit. As many as 37 embassies in Washington could soon face similar action. Seventeen of those embassies are from African countries.

So why is this an important story? Why is it important to journalists and journalism organizations?

One simple word: Retaliation!

Already the Angolan government is showing its displeasure with the bank action by refusing to accept the credentials of the U.S. ambassador-designate to Angola. (The Angolan government says the U.S. government needs to do more to force the banks to accept their accounts.)

On the horizon, the governments could cancel permission of U.S. banks to operate in their countries. They could also freeze or cancel the local banking accounts of companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron. This latter option is already being discussed in Angola.

The few U.S. news outlets that have international correspondents and bureaus, could find their overseas accounts frozen. This would lead to an inability to pay stringers, local staff, interpreters and — in general — local expenses.

In a larger view, a tidal wave of account closings could make it impossible to conduct simple business across borders. It could bring further economic woes to a global economy just now coming out of the 2008 crash.

Looking at who has carried the story, it seems that after the Wall Street Journal reported it, picked up the Reuters‘ feed, all the local Fox TV stations carried it — at least on their websites. Then Reuters picked it up. But as of early morning on Sunday, I was hard pressed to find many major news organizations in the States carrying the story.

Local self interest can be seen in international events

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

In an example of local interests prompting international coverage, the Houston Chronicle this week had an editorial about the Brazilian election. (Ready to lead. Brazil: South America’s bright spot)

Okay, it took the paper a while to realize that the largest country south of the United States had a major election just a couple of days before the U.S. midterm. But they finally got there.

And the reason the Chronicle was so concerned about the outcome of the Brazilian election? Simple domestic self-interest.

Of particular interest to many in Houston, Brazil has benefited from the discovery of rich offshore oil and gas reserves now under development and has Latin America’s second-largest petroleum reserves, behind only Venezuela. Thus, there are important strategic connections to be made between this city and Brazil in the energy area.

Now if the Chronicle could just step up its coverage of Brazil — beyond floods and historic elections — it might add some weight to these words.

Getting a local grip on trade issues

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

President Obama wrapped up his visit to India with signed deals that — he said — would mean more than 50,000 new American jobs.

This is no small feat. India is notorious within the global trading community as being protectionist. The visit by Obama at least got Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to agree that protectionism is not good for either country. (Of course, he worded his statement to make it sound as if both sides were equally at fault, when in fact India has massive restrictions on imports and the U.S. hardly any.)

But the 50,000 or so jobs being created (maybe protected) in the trade deals signed this week are just the tip of the iceberg.

Despite the rhetoric of isolationists on the left and right in the United States, trade is good for America and American jobs.

Back in September Bruce Katz, Brookings Institution vice president and Jonathan T. Rothwell, Brookings senior research analyst, wrote about the five myths about U.S. exports.

Some key points in their article:

  • U.S. exports grew 14.1 percent from the second quarter of 2009 to the second quarter of 2010, a pace far outstripping the 3 percent growth of the economy overall.
  • While domestic consumers struggle with unemployment and debt, demand in many other countries is booming, and that demand could be translated into U.S. job growth.
  • Our exports include not only manufactured objects but also services and intellectual property. Indeed, services account for roughly a third of all U.S. exports, and this share has been growing.
  • Our other service exports include travel and tourism (the services we sell to international tourists, from restaurant meals to hotel stays, count as exports, even though they are enjoyed on U.S. soil)
  • Although exports make up a smaller share of our economy than in export-oriented Germany and China, our strength in high-quality services and high-value goods shows that we can compete in the fields where innovation matters most. The U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest rates of innovation (as measured by the number of patents issued per worker) are also the most export-oriented.
  • For every $1 billion in exports by a given industry in a given metropolitan area, wages in that industry in that area increase 2 percent over the wages paid to other workers in the region, regardless of workers’ education levels.
  • The rise of developing countries has created a substantial number of jobs in the United States. In research we…found that from 2003 to 2008, the value of U.S. exports to Brazil, India and China doubled in inflation-adjusted dollars, accounting for 8.8 percent of U.S. exports in 2008. Put another way, our exports to these countries increased 121 percent over that time period, compared with a 46 percent increase in U.S. exports overall.
  • We have many ways of boosting exports, and we don’t exploit all of them.
  • Wichita doubled its exports between 2003 and 2008…supported by a variety of federal, state and local institutions, including nonprofits and private-public partnerships.

It would be nice to see more reporting from local news outlets about how local products are being sold overseas. Of course that might also mean these same news organizations will have to report on the economic, social and political situations in those countries that are now vital trading partners. (After all, if a big buying country suddenly has an economic melt down or an unstable government, they won’t be buying from the local company any more.)

And as I pointed out a while back, for every 80 or so visas issued to Brazilians to visit the United States, one job is created in the U.S. economy. And the U.S. mission in Brazil issues A LOT of visas each week. (Maybe the news outlets in Orlando and Miami — top sites for Brazilian visitors — might want to take notice.)

Here’s a story idea: Censorship=Unfair Trade

Cross posted with Journalism, Journalists and the World

The censorship squad in Beijing has got to be going crazy right now.

The European Community made the case earlier this year that censorship is a trade barrier. That means governments that engage in censorship of the Internet are in violation of trade agreements from simple bilateral accords to the whopper World Trade Organization.

Countries like China fought to get into the WTO to ease their sales into other trading countries. At the time, China said it was willing and ready to play by the rules of the rest of the world.

Of course, they only meant the “build cheap, sell expensive” and “Buy from me but I don’t have to buy form you” rules. Nobody mentioned anything about opening up access to information.

It was inevitable, however. Free and fair trade can only exist when there is also free exchange of information and data. The Chinese government understands that somewhat. They loosened some controls over foreign media access to China. More Western — non-Chinese government — publications are available to more Chinese people. And even some Chinese pubications are able to report more freely about economic and business issues. (But not social or political ones.)

But the Old Guard continues to hold enough power in the government to keep trying to control Internet access in China. But there has been push-back they never expected.

  • The government failed to force all computers in China to install the stolen software Green Dam.
  • Google refused to play ball by self-censoring information through its web site
  • Hackers who provide ways around the Great Chinese Firewall are treated like rock stars by computer users.

And now trade, the lifeblood of economic well-being in China is under attack.

Basically the Europeans have told China: “Censor the Internet and we will file unfair trade practices against you.”

And now the U.S. has joined in. And Google is helping. (Google helps build trade case over Web censorship)

The usually boring trade issue stories now have GEEK APPEAL. It would be nice to see if some U.S. reporters — national and local — pick up on this technology and trade issue.

  • How is censorship unfair trade?
  • What does it mean for U.S. and local businesses?
  • How has the Internet made getting cheaper goods easier? Harder?
  • How has the Internet affected how people do business with suppliers from around the globe?

Just a few questions. Let’s see if anyone asks them.

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