Trade’s primary benefits — in Wisconsin, Texas, and Ohio

In the Washington Times today, Donald Lambro focuses on the recent primary in Wisconsin and questions the attacks on trade by presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Lambro points out how Wisconsin has gained from trade:

In dollar terms, Wisconsin’s exports totaled $17.2 billion in 2006, up by 64 percent since 2001. Its largest export industries were in construction, farming and industrial machinery, plus engines and power transmission equipment.

He also offers some broader advice on trade to would-be POTUSes:

But turning away from trade agreements, now and in the future, will not strengthen our economy but only weaken it. There is nothing wrong with the economy in Wisconsin or the rest of the country that cannot be helped by opening overseas markets to our products and services. U.S. export sales have been running at about $1.3 trillion a year and that figure will climb as a result of an expanding world economy and a weaker dollar that is making our products more competitive.

Now that the candidates are under the eyes of Texas for its upcoming primary, they should also check out how that state benefits enormously from trade, and — contrary to what the candidates are spouting — the North America Free Trade Agreement — is responsible for a large share of Texas’ export growth.

According to the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank,

Having surpassed California as the top exporting state in 2002, Texas today sells $150 billion worth of goods overseas. If Texas were a nation, it would rank among the top 20 exporting countries in the world.

Who are Texas’ best customers? Mexico has traditionally been the state’s preeminent trading partner—not at all surprising, given its proximity. Geography and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994 helped make Mexico the destination for 35 percent of Texas exports in 2006 (Chart 1). Laredo has become the nation’s fourth busiest port district.

But don’t expect a candidate conversion to this view. The anti-trade pandering may play well in Ohio, even though that state also depends heavily on trade with NAFTA countries for its export growth:

Ohio’s export shipments of merchandise in 2006 totaled $37.8 billion, up 36 percent ($10.1 billion) from 2002. Ohio recorded the eighth largest export total of all 50 states in 2006.

Ohio’s increase in exports of $10.1 billion from 2002 to 2006 was the ninth largest among the 50 states.

Ohio exported globally to 205 foreign destinations in 2006. The state’s largest market in 2006, by far, was our NAFTA trading partner Canada, which received goods exports of $18.3 billion. This was nearly half (48 percent) of Ohio’s total exports that year. Ohio’s second-largest market was our other NAFTA partner Mexico ($2.7 billion), followed by Japan ($1.4 billion). Other top markets included China, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Australia, and Saudi Arabia.