Saturday, January 08, 2011

10 Economic Reasons Why Trade Is Beneficial

Cato’s Dan Ikenson improves on U.S. Chamber of Commerce John Murphy’s list of the top 10 reasons why trade is good trade for America.

Below is John Murphy’s list along with Mr. Ikenson’s enhancements (bold highlights original) [from Blog]

1. The United States is the number one manufacturing nation in the world, and that success depends on exports. And since over half of the total value of U.S. imports consists of “intermediate goods” (products that are used as inputs for further value-added activity), manufacturing success also depends on imports.

2. The United States is the world’s number one services exporter and has been since services trade data have been tracked. And one of the reasons that foreigners are able to purchase American services is because they have been able to earn dollars by selling goods to American businesses and consumers.

3. U.S. agricultural exports support nearly a million jobs in the United States. And, agricultural and manufactured imports have made life’s necessities and conveniences more affordable to hundreds of millions of Americans.

4. 95 percent of the world’s consumers lives outside the United States…as do 95 percent of the world’s workers, who produce many of the goods Americans consume as imports less expensively than Americans can, freeing up U.S. resources for investment, innovation, and consumption of the higher value products and services that Americans produce.

5. FTA countries purchased more than 40 percent of U.S. exports in 2009. And imports from those countries have helped extend families’ budgets and reduced the costs of production for U.S. business relying on inputs from those countries.

6. Since the creation of the WTO in 1994, U.S. exports of goods and services have doubled to more than $1.5 trillion. And real U.S. GDP has increased by 50 percent.

7. Imports support millions of U.S. jobs in retail, research, design, sourcing, transportation, warehousing, marketing and sales…and in manufacturing.

8. U.S. exports to China have quadrupled over the past 15 years, and China is now the 3rd largest market for U.S. exports. And U.S. imports from China, too often wrongly portrayed as evidence of U.S. profligacy or decline, have enabled U.S. industries that require access to lower-cost labor for economic viability to be born, to blossom, and to spark the advent of new products and industries.

9. U.S. companies with overseas investments account for 45 percent of all U.S. exports. And foreign companies operating in the United States employ 5.6 million Americans, support a payroll of $408.5 billion, provide compensation that is 33% higher than the U.S. average, account for 18% of U.S. exports, pay U.S. taxes, support local charities, and act as investment magnets in communities across the country.

10. Trade supports 38 million jobs in the United States–more than one in five American jobs. And most Americans enjoy the fruits of international trade and globalization every day: driving to work in vehicles containing at least some foreign content; talking on foreign-made mobile telephones; having extra disposable income because retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Home Depot are able to pass on cost savings made possible by their own access to thousands of foreign producers; eating healthier because they now can enjoy fresh imported produce that was once unavailable out-of-season, etc.

Additional comments:

Of course trade IS NOT only good for the US, but FOR THE WORLD. Note that 95% of the world’s consumers and workers reside outside America!

In addition, foreign trade SHOULD NOT be seen or interpreted in isolation.

Instead, what must be understood is that the market represents a process where consumers and producers (and service providers) are vastly interdependent with each other and whose activities are coordinated through the price mechanism.

The great Professor Ludwig von Mises calls this connexity. He wrote, (all bold highlights mine)

What links together in our actual world the various fields of want-satisfaction is the existence of a great many nonspecific factors, suitable to be employed for the attainment of various ends and to be substituted in some degree for one another. The fact that one factor, labor, is on the one hand required for every kind of production and on the other hand is, within the limits defined, nonspecific, brings about the general connexity of all human activities. It integrates the pricing process into a whole in which all gears work on one another. It makes the market a concatenation of mutually interdependent phenomena.

It would be absurd to look upon a definite price as if it were an isolated object in itself. A price is expressive of the position which acting men attach to a thing under the present state of their efforts to remove uneasiness. It does not indicate a relationship to something unchanging, but merely the instantaneous position in a kaleidoscopically changing assemblage. In this collection of things considered valuable by the value judgments of acting men each particle's place is interrelated with those of all other particles. What is called a price is always a relationship within an integrated system which is the composite effect of human valuations.

This means that foreign trade is highly interrelated with domestic trading activities.

Thus, trade data shouldn’t be seen only in the light of either foreign or local but should account for both.

Looking at trade in different prisms would only stimulate the misimpression that trade operates on a closed framework, a false fodder for anti-trade exponents or the protectionists.

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