Policy Today podcast: Trade, and trade agreements, are hugely important to Washington's economy

Today's guest is Eric Schinfeld, president of the Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT). He joins us to talk about the importance of trade, and international trade agreements, to Washington state. It's an especially timely topic given the newly controversial role trade is playing in the current presidential election: Both major candidates oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (also known as TPP), a pending trade deal between the United States and 11 other nations. WCIT has joined up with the Association of Washington Business, our state's chamber of commerce, on a new study outlining the many and significant ways TPP would benefit Washington state.

Highlights of the study include:

  • If the TPP were fully enacted in 2015, Washington’s exports could have been up to $8.7 billion higher and created as many as 26,400 direct jobs (and as many as 47,000 indirect jobs).
  • Specific Washington industries that would benefit the most: agriculture, which would see tariffs as high as 208 percent eliminated; software, which would see improved cross-border data flows and IP protection; and aerospace, which will see an increased demand as TPP countries’ economies grow. Exports to Japan alone could have been $3.6 billion higher had the TPP been implemented last year.

Another important fact about trade deals, which Eric brings up in this episode: There's a lot of talk about America's trade deficit, but we actually have a trade surplus with the 20 countries with which we have free-trade agreements.

Because Washington is one of the most trade-dependent states in the nation, we'll continue to follow this issue closely and will have more podcast interviews for you in the coming months on the crucial link between trade deals and economic health.

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