Politics, Education and Reality in Global Trade

This guest article was written by William Laraque who is the Managing Director of US-International Trade Services.

Less than 1% of US small businesses export, import, engage in FDI or participate in global trade. Only 2% of these sell to more than one country.

In a populist and protectionist political environment, how do we convince US enterprises that global markets are the key to growth? In an ecosystem that is uninformed and uneducated as to the opportunities, how do we educate and inform on how to achieve success in global trade? This is the challenge we face in 2017.

Mr. Trump, our POTUS, attacks China’s becoming a World Trade Organization member as representative of the US’s destructive and job-costing trade treaties. That’s the politics.

The reality is that China or any other country or major economy becoming a WTO member is not the result of a US trade treaty. It is inevitable for China, a country of 1.3 billion people, to achieve this status. Was this market not supposed to participate in the global economy? The fact that this cost the US some 3 million jobs is as much a comment on the lack of competitiveness of US enterprises in global trade as it is on the effects of global trade itself.

There is a close relationship between education and global trade success and the related economic growth. Many studies document the relationship between higher education and GDP growth. One of these is Higher Education and the Economy by Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst.

To quote from Whitehurst’s study:

“Today in Austin President Obama renewed his call for America to regain the world lead in college graduates by 2020. He tied doing so to our future economic competitiveness.

The statistical backdrop for the president’s remarks is that we have fallen from 1st to 12th place internationally in the percentage of young adults with postsecondary degrees. This is not because our rates have gone down (they have been rising) but because other countries have leapfrogged us. Improving the education of our citizens is a worthy goal, and the president is to be applauded for using his…