By Kyle Koehler
The global economy is working for Ohio. Now let’s win it.
Ohio’s economy is making real gains thanks to the benefits of international trade. With important changes like tax reform, our businesses are better poised than ever before to take on to the competition. And the best part – manufacturers, farmers, and innovators are all winning.
Over 1.5 million Ohioans have jobs that are dependent on trade and the global economy. These jobs range from the folks building Hondas in Marysville, to farmers all across Ohio — who grow so much soy that Ohio is the 5th largest exporter in the United States — to the hardworking people we are privileged to employ in our family-owned manufacturing business.
These are great jobs. We need to do all we can to protect them and to attract and create more. As chair of the House Agriculture Committee I’m proud of the work we’re doing to advance policy to help our farmers compete across the country and around the globe. Yet, we can’t do it alone.
Despite the risks, America must reassert itself in the international trade conversation, and I was pleased to hear President Trump make that commitment during the State of the Union address. Both sides of the trade debate have valid points — America cannot withdraw from an increasingly globalized world, but we also must negotiate on our terms to ensure deals that truly benefit American workers.
That’s why it is critical that we re-engage with Asia on trade as quickly as possible. A whopping 95 percent of consumers, representing 80 percent of global purchasing power, reside outside the United States. Over the next decade billions of consumers in Asia will make their way into the middle class and demand changes to their lifestyles. American companies must be ready to provide it, which requires market access.
When America walked away from TPP, we walked away from a deal with a group of economies that represent 13.5 percent of global GDP. Expect that figure to grow in coming years.
While there were valid reasons to question the deal, I worry that in leaving, the United States created a vacuum that China is poised to fill. Given the Chinese government’s track record of disregarding fair business practices, it is all but assured that if we allow Chinese businesses to step in, it will be American goods, businesses, and workers who feel the pain.
As the President said in his recent speech to the World Economic Forum, free trade “needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal. Because, in the end, unfair trade undermines us all.”
Without trade deals, American exports are likely to face stiff tariffs and other market-access barriers that will make our products more expensive. To avoid this self-inflicted disadvantage, The United States must get serious about establishing and expanding free and fair trade relationships with Asian nations which share our values.
This means working to improve relationships with countries like Japan and South Korea, who in addition to importing plenty of Ohio-made and Ohio-grown products are also heavily investing in Ohio workers at manufacturing and assembly plants all across our state. We need to ensure that America remains a viable link in their global supply chains, and withdrawing from trade is no way to accomplish that.
Representative Kyle Koehler, Ohio House District 79, lives in Springfield. He can be reached at Phone (614) 466-2038 or visit http://www.ohiohouse.gov/j-kyle-koehler
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