Commentary: Exports Key to Economic Growth, Jobs​

Perennial Leader California Accounts for More than 10% of U.S. Exports

Susanne-Stirling-2012-300x300U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has kicked off World Trade Month 2014 by reiterating the government’s commitment to making international trade an integral part of the DNA of U.S. businesses.

U.S. exports reached a record high for a fourth consecutive year in 2013, totaling $2.3 trillion and supporting more than 11.3 million jobs.

Making sure U.S. businesses—from light manufacturers to service providers— benefit from the higher growth, employment and wages from increased exporting is key to expanding the economy and creating opportunity for all Americans.

“More and more American companies are seeing the value of selling their goods and services all over the world, but there are still many businesses that focus solely on the domestic market. They are missing out on potential opportunities for growth,” Secretary Pritzker said. “Every $1 billion in additional exports supports approximately 5,000 U.S. jobs, and as such, trade is critical to the strength of our economy.”

Pritzker added, “Promoting U.S. trade and investment is critical to remaining globally competitive. In fact, nearly one-third of U.S. economic growth since 2009 can be attributed to exports alone. We continue to explore avenues to improve our commercial relationships with key trading partners that will expand global opportunities for U.S. businesses.”

As we observe World Trade Week, it is clear that international trade is a continuing bright spot in the economic landscape, with export markets providing advantages for both California and the United States.

California Trade Stats

In 2013, California exports totaled $168.1 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. This was an increase from $161.9 billion in 2012.

California maintained its perennial position as a top exporting state, exporting to more than 229 foreign markets. Exports from California accounted for 10.6% of total U.S. exports, with Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and South Korea being the state’s top trading partners.

Trade Agreements

Because roughly 95% of the potential customers for U.S. goods and services live outside our borders, increasing exports will generate critical economic growth. Agreements like the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), multilateral agreements currently being negotiated, ensure that the United States may continue to gain access to world markets, which will result in an improved economy and additional employment of Americans.

All trade agreements are critical elements of the U.S. strategy to liberalize trade through multilateral, regional and bilateral initiatives. Passage of these agreements means the elimination of billions of dollars in tariffs for U.S. exports, as well as increased market visibility and benefits to California and the United States as a whole.

Through the TPP, the United States is seeking to help establish a trade and investment framework that supports job creation, promoting competitiveness, and expanding trade in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. The United States also is seeking to advance core U.S. values in the agreement, such as transparency, labor rights, and environmental protection.

The TTIP is a key driver of global economic growth, trade and prosperity, and represents the largest, most integrated and longest-standing regional economic relationship in the world. Together, the European Union and the United States are responsible for 11.5% of the world’s population, 45% of global gross domestic product (GDP), 30% of global merchandise trade, and 40% of world trade in services. A trade agreement could increase economic output for both the U.S. and the E.U.

Further, the California Chamber of Commerce is supporting legislation introduced in Congress to renew the authority of the President and/or U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate trade agreements.

Passage of trade promotion authority will help Congress and the President to work together to forge new and beneficial trade agreements for the United States.

Global Leader

America’s standing as a world leader depends directly upon our competitive success in the global economy. For more than half a century, the United States has led the world in breaking down barriers to trade and in creating a fairer and freer international trading system based on market economics and the rule of law.

Increased market access achieved through trade agreements has played a major role in our nation’s success as one of the world’s leading exporters.

The CalChamber supports expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad, and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business.

Susanne Stirling is vice president of international affairs at the California Chamber of Commerce.

Susanne T. Stirling
Susanne T. Stirling, vice president, international affairs, has headed CalChamber international activities for more than four decades. She is an appointee of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the National Export Council, and serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Policy Committee, the California International Relations Foundation, and the Chile-California Council. Originally from Denmark, she studied at the University of Copenhagen and holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of the Pacific, where she served as a regent from 2012 to 2021. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. See full bio.