Why we need to focus on trade

Together, the Portland Harbor, marine industrial businesses, and the tens of thousands of other businesses engaged in international trade are helping the Portland-metro and the stateís economy grow. Oregon and the Portlandmetro region have a lot at stake in the global marketplace. Besides proving vital to many businessesí survival during the most recent recession, international trade is now helping rev the engines of our state and regional economy. In an increasingly integrated global market where more than 95 percent of customers live outside the U.S. providing the opportunities for future business growth, international trade will also be essential to our regionís future success.

Besides the obvious bottom-line benefits of trade, access to global supply chains enables Oregon manufacturers and service providers to make the best products at the lowest cost. And trade directly creates thousands of family-wage jobs and indirectly supports thousands more.

Ensuring ďMade in OregonĒ (and ďGrown in OregonĒ) products and services remain competitive in the international marketplace will require federal and state efforts, but it is essential that local actions donít thwart efforts for our businesses to compete globally. That means supporting continued investment in marine, air and ground transportation facilities; reducing barriers to the development of industrial land; supporting the development of appropriate tax policies, and new trade agreements.

Additionally, the Portland-metro region needs to focus on ways to support the businesses engaged in the activities that make trade happen Ė specifically marine industrial businesses. We can foster that growth, and in turn create higher wage local-sector jobs, see Figure 6, by facilitating more marine industrial land, such as the annexation of West Hayden Island.

The Value of Jobs Coalition will continue to monitor international trade activity and how the region is measuring up. Clearly, our state and region are leaders in international trade; it is an economic bright spot that we can grow. Greater Portland, Inc. and its work with Brookings Institution on the Export Initiative should have the regionís full support. Our region should also lend its support to its Congressional delegation to ensure the passage of more Free Trade Agreements, as the more markets that open up, the greater access we have to selling our goods and services. Our future economic growth depends on global fluency and efficient market access for local, regional and state businesses.

Our coalition wants to grow the regionís economic strength because it means more jobs and higher wages, which creates healthy families and more robust public services. All in all that means a better quality of life for the regionís residents. International trade is a path forward to that goal.