Parker: Global fair trade works … tariffs don’t

Much has been said recently about an emerging trade war for American products versus the imbalance of trade with other countries like China, the EU, Mexico and Canada.  Nationally, this could seem like a political hot potato.  But that said, let me share some thoughts about how a global trade war could affect us in Ohio.

We all know Ohio is big in exports to the tune of $3.3 billion annually.  We export all kinds of goods, manufactured products are common; but don’t forget our number one industry in Ohio … agriculture.  Two of our biggest trading partners for Ohio goods are Canada ($2.1 billion) and Mexico ($294 million).  We also export $826 million to China and another $111 million to Europe each year.  This output is created or supported by 1,502,600 Ohio jobs.  So if you think this issue doesn’t spark our interest here at the Chamber of Commerce, please think again.  Exports is big business to Ohio.

Phil Parker, president & CEO, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

On a national level, the new US tariffs on steel and aluminum created a reaction from Canada that could retaliate against $12.6 billion in American-made products to our trading partner to the north.  Overall, trade with our North American neighbors to the north and south supports 14 million jobs across America.  So what we do with our trading partners affects us in Ohio and across our nation.

Our economy has been quite good lately.  Some say we just may surpass our longest bull market ever.  But if we get into a global trade war, our growth could begin to fizzle … along with exports, jobs and the marketplace.

Let’s agree on this if we can.  Global trade in Ohio and the U.S. is vitally important to our economy.  Right now, international trade is neither balanced nor fair.  But let’s be smart about how we force others into balancing the trade deficits.

Our chamber of commerce believes deeply in the principles of the free enterprise system and free trade.  But trade isn’t always FREE.  What we need is honest fair trade and hopefully that can be accomplished without burdensome tariffs.  We must try other avenues to convince our trading partners that we are serious about both fair trade and our efforts to protect American workers; American jobs; and America’s best interests.

I recently signed on to a letter to the administration in Washington about our views on this issue.  Washington must also hear from America’s heartland about this subject.  Your input is not only important … it is vital.  Balanced and fair trade works … tariffs don’t.

Phillip L. Parker, CAE, CCE
President & CEO
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

View how this Op-Ed appeared in the Dayton Daily News.