On a day that one senior Bush Administration official has said is the darkest for U.S. international trade and economic engagement since passage of the Smoot-Hawley tariff — because the House of Representatives under Speaker Pelosi's leadership has changed the rules on how the Colombia trade agreement will be considered and may have seriously damaged U.S. credibility in current and future trade negotiations — when not meeting with offices on Capitol Hill I have been looking at the trade numbers. Since all of the anti-trade rhetoric has kicked up between the Ohio and Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primaries, I decided to look at electroindustry exports from the Keystone State.
I won't bore you with lots of figures, but it is important to note that since 2000, U.S. electroindustry equipment exports from U.S. Customs' "Philadelphia Export District" (which includes Pennsylvania and small parts of neighboring New Jersey) have increased markedly to U.S. FTA partners and to the rest of the world as well. It is true that thanks to industrial automation, fewer workers are needed to assemble equipment that were needed in previous decades, and our economy has undergone other changes over the years. But U.S. export growth is important, and continuing to open foreign markets through FTAs and multilateral agreements is crucial to it. As the smoke clears from today's House vote, we need to work together to step our communication of that message not only to decisionmakers on the Hill but also to the public in general.