The US-China Business Council (USCBC) recently released the latest update to its annual report on US goods exports to China by state. This year’s data continued to show an upswing in US exports to China. Total exports reached almost $109 billion, and 30 states exported $1 billion or more worth of goods. But the raw data is just the beginning of a story about America’s complex economy.

In the coming months, USCBC’s report on exports at the congressional district level will be released as well. Export data is an important way to tell the story of why international trade is important to America’s economy. It is probably one of the easiest ways to do so: Everyone can understand that making a product in the United States and sending it to China creates jobs and wealth here at home.

Export numbers are the gateway to a more complex discussion of why trade is vital to America’s economic health. From talking about exports of physical goods, one can easily begin a discussion of services exports. While services industries comprise roughly 80 percent of the US economy—and employ the majority of working Americans—we rarely discuss how important they are to creating high-quality jobs here at home. In fact, the United States has a trade surplus with China in the services sector.

From there, it is not difficult to tackle another issue that most Americans do not always realize: US companies doing business in China create jobs here at home. Without operations in China, companies might not be able to sell some goods there due to higher transportation costs and longer lead times for delivery. Companies that are in China to sell to Chinese customers not only benefit US companies and their investors—they also support jobs in America that are part of a company’s global operations.

An additional step that many have shied away from is the final piece of the goods trade: imports. Our colleagues at the Trade Partnership, which does the work behind USCBC’s state and district export reports, have recently released a report on the impact of imported goods on the US economy. While the data is not China-specific, Trade Partnership has gone beyond the cost savings that imports create for household budgets and delved into the job-creating aspects of imports. Even when job losses due to manufacturing offshore are factored in, they estimate that more than 16 million American jobs are supported by trade in imported goods. Those are jobs that range from getting a product from port to storefront to jobs that are created by manufacturers who use imports to make finished goods. Further, Trade Partnership found that more than half of US firms involved directly in importing are small businesses.

These are all important lessons about the complexity of America’s economy. For more information on some of the top issues that everyone should understand about US trade with China, please visit USCBC’s report from earlier this year on advancing a winning trade agenda. We hope that it will serve as a resource for you to help spread the word.

[author] Erin Ennis ([email protected]) is vice president of the US-China Business Council. [/author]

Posted by Christina Nelson