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International trade means more than just agreements and words. Trade is the backbone of American enterprise. That’s why we are traveling to seven states over the next three days, from North Dakota to Kansas, to talk trade with local chambers of commerce, civic and community leaders, businesses, and exporters. I’ll be live-blogging here (below) so stay tuned for videos, interviews, and photos from our great Mid-America Trade Tour!
John G. Murphy
================ Tune in for the latest updates below!
Tuesday, September 19th, 4:05 PM ET: In transit at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport waiting for my flight to Bismarck, ND. Minnesota has a lot at stake in trade. Nearly $35 billion in exports, over 1/3 of which went to Canada and Mexico. More than 788,000 Minnesotans depend on trade. More to come!
Wednesday, September 20th, 10:45 AM ET: While connecting through Minneapolis yesterday, I came across this iconic Oscar-winning artist who called Minnesota home. (BONUS points if you can name the musician). His music, and that of other artists, represent not only great tunes but also valuable intellectual property. The United States is a global leader in innovative and creative output and has an obvious stake in seeing strengthened IP standards put in place worldwide. IP provides the incentives for the world's most innovative minds to develop cures for deadly diseases, productivity-enhancing software, safe and plentiful food supplies, and clean energy technologies; enhances our cultural life through the encouragement of creative works, such as books, movies, music, and art; and, promotes brand accountability to safeguard an informed consumer from dangerous fakes and pirated products. IP-intensive companies account for more than $6 trillion of U.S. GDP, drive 52% of U.S. exports and support 45 million American jobs. Here's a recent post about how IP matters in the ongoing NAFTA modernization talks.
Wednesday, September 20th, 11:15 AM ET: As I was in transit yesterday at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport enroute North Dakota for start of 7 state Mid-America Trade Tour, I highlighted how airports are hubs of not only passenger travel but cargo shipments as well, a major facilitator for international trade. In fact, $18.6 billion of goods are traded by air cargo every day, that’s 35% of global trade value. Check out the video!
Wednesday, September 20th, 1:32 PM ET: Woke up to a beautiful North Dakota morning earlier today. First stop was the old Northern Pacific Rail depot and Heritage Center & Museum. North Dakota has a great trade story. Over 111,000 jobs tied to trade and more than $9 billion in goods and services exports. But, there’s an important trade distinction for North Dakota: the highest percentage of state exports to our NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico of any state in the country. Over 83% of the state’s exports go to the two countries.
Wednesday, September 20th, 1:48 PM ET: Just finished speaking to Greater North Dakota Chamber Roundtable event here in Bismarck. Congressman Kevin Cramer in attendance too cautioning against NAFTA termination. Had a chance to talk with Chamber President Andy Peterson about the importance of trade to North Dakota. As he mentions in our chat, nearly 85% of what is grown or manufactured in North Dakota is exported around the world and trade “represents jobs, prosperity, and wealth.
Wednesday, September 20th, 2:47 PM ET: Exports have been a tremendous boon for America’s farmers and ranchers, accounting for a big share of their production. That is especially true here in North Dakota. Soybeans and wheat are two major export crops, both nearly 50% of the share of U.S. farm production between 2011 – 2013.
Wednesday, September 20th, 7:24 PM ET: Stopped just outside Breckenridge, Minnesota a short time ago. Breckenridge is in the heart of the Red River Valley which is very fertile land for a huge variety of crops like soybeans, corn, and sugar beets. Minnesota has a long history of trade, and today counts Canada and Mexico as the state’s top two export destinations. In fact, over 247,000 jobs in the Land of 10,000 Lakes are supported by trade with our neighbors to the north and south. In 2015, over $8 billion of goods and services were exported to our NAFTA partners. Trade is big business for Minnesota and helping making it great!
Thursday, September 21st, 8:04 AM ET: Just visited WCCO Belting in Wahpeton, North Dakota, a 63 year old small business which started as a shoe repair shop and now specializes in custom rubber belting for machines in agriculture, construction, industrial, and recycling industries. 50% of their sales come from exports to over 20 countries including Canada and Mexico. For their export success they've won the President's E-Award and E-Star Award for Exporting. Over 111,000 North Dakotan jobs are tied to trade and 82% of all exporters in the state are SMEs like WCCO. (www.tradeworksforus.com/ND)
Check out my interview with Tom Shorma, CEO/President of WCCO Belting. As he says, half of their 200 employees have jobs thanks to exports. At WCCO and in North Dakota, trade means jobs!
Thursday, September 21st, 2:09 PM ET: Spoke earlier today at the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce about trade policy and NAFTA outlook. South Dakota depends on trade with 130,000 jobs tied to trade and more than $5 billion exported in 2014. As Chamber President Jason Bell said, trade to foreign markets is critical to Sioux Falls and South Dakota; and 71% of exports go to markets where the U.S. has a free trade agreements, like NAFTA where over 62% of the state’s exports go to our northern and southern neighbors.
It was also great to see Senator Mike Rounds at breakfast this morning. We appreciate his support and leadership on trade in the U.S. Senate. Next stop Nebraska!
Thursday, September 21st, 6:08 PM ET: Earlier today I visited Werner Enterprises in Omaha, Nebraska. While agriculture is a major drive of the Nebraska economy, there is a thriving service sector as well. Werner is a global transportation and logistics company covering North America, Asia, Europe, South America, Africa, and Australia. Canada and Mexico represent major destinations for Werner; and in fact represent Nebraska’s top two export markets. More than 41% of Nebraska’s exports, nearly $3 billion, go to Canada and Mexico which support over 87,000 jobs in the Cornhusker state. For Werner and Nebraska, NAFTA really does drive trade! Watch my chat with Lance Dixon of Werner Enterprises to see why NAFTA matters to them.
Thursday, September 21st, 6:55 PM ET: Just stopped in Iowa to visit the Loess Hills. When you think of Iowa and trade you may first think about corn and agriculture. But, Iowa has a very strong manufacturing sector. Manufacturers like John Deere and Caterpillar have big footprints in Iowa. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, manufacturing contributes $2 trillion to the U.S. economy and trade is responsible for half of the 12 million manufacturing jobs in our country. In fact, we have a trade surplus in manufactured goods with our trade agreement partners. This contributes to Iowa’s $22 billion in exports and more than 456,000 jobs. Canada and Mexico are major consumers of Iowa exports, with more than 46% of Hawkeye exports being sold to our neighbors. So, while agriculture is a big driver of Iowa’s export success, don’t forget about manufacturing! Next stop Missouri!
Thursday, September 21st, 7:35 PM ET: Just crossed into Missouri. Did you know that 55% of Missouri’s exports go to Canada and Mexico supporting a quarter million jobs here? Of the $450 million worth of agriculture exports from Missouri to our NAFTA partners, more than 97% goes to Mexico. Stay tuned for more updates from the Show-Me State!
Friday, September 22nd, 10:48 AM ET: Earlier, I visited SCD Probiotics in Kansas City, Missouri. SCD is a global bioscience company researching, developing, and manufacturing probiotics for agriculture, livestock, waste treatment, and human health, among other applications. They have 30 employees here in Kansas City and a whopping 75% of SCD’s sales are from exporting to more than 20 countries on six continents. As recognition of their exporting performance and excellence, in 2013, SCD received the Missouri Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award. This is a great example of not only how a small business can succeed in the international marketplace (remember than 98% of all exporters are SMEs) but also that exporters aren’t just in agriculture and manufacturing; they’re also in hi-tech research and development products. Watch my conversation with Peter Ryan, Executive Vice President for Sales and Marketing at SCD Probiotics. On to Kansas next!
Friday, September 22nd, 3:37 PM ET: Today I visited Pioneer Balloon Company at one of their manufacturing facilities in El Dorado, Kansas, and headquarters in Wichita. I spoke with Ted Vlamis, VP of International at Pioneer Balloon, who has been previously profiled for the Chamber’s Faces of Trade initiative, about the 100 year old company. Today, 50% of Pioneer Balloon’s sales are from exports to over 100 countries around the world and the company has a unique perspective on the on-going NAFTA talks. Before NAFTA, Pioneer Balloons was hit with a 20% duty for their export sales to Mexico. Following NAFTA, however, Mexico has skyrocketed to become Pioneer Balloon’s third largest export market. As Ted mentions in our talk, NAFTA has enabled growth for Pioneer Balloon Company in sales and jobs and they don’t want to see it diminished. Check it out!