The Ripon Forum

Volume 55, No. 2

May 2021

What Trade Means to My State

By on May 20, 2021

by ASA HUTCHINSON

With an increasing trade imbalance for the United States, our nation must open up more international markets for our goods and services. In March of this year, the U.S. trade deficit soared to a record $74.4 billion. This is largely the result of an improving U.S. economy and consumers having money to spend. But it also reflects the failure of protective tariffs to reverse the decades-old trend of U.S. imports exceeding our exports.

International trade creates jobs in the United States, and the emphasis on fair and free trade is an essential element of our foreign policy. Our free market produces the best products, inspires the most creativity, builds the strongest economies, and creates the best quality of life. For all the initiatives that we can put forth to bolster the economy at home, the exchange of goods and ideas with the least interference from governments will serve us best.

Over 350,000 jobs in Arkansas are dependent upon international trade. In fact, 26 percent of our state’s labor force is the result of global trade. We export to over 170 countries from Canada to Israel, with our North American partners leading the way under the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Over 350,000 jobs in Arkansas are dependent upon international trade. In fact, 26 percent of our state’s labor force is the result of global trade.

I am proud of the producers in my state of Arkansas, from agriculture to the aero-defense companies that are giants in global trade. Our aerospace and defense industries include stars such as Dassault Falcon Jet, Lockheed Martin, and hundreds of home-grown businesses that support the growing international export market.

In terms of agriculture, we have the largest chicken processor in the United States in Tyson, with its global headquarters in Springdale. We produce 50 percent of all rice gown in the United States right here in Arkansas. Whether poultry, rice, soybeans, or cotton, our producers need global markets to feed the world and create jobs at home.

Of course, if we demand access to markets abroad, we should also provide fair access to the domestic consumers in the United States. The Arkansas strategy is to maximize the opportunity for foreign companies to expand and invest in the United States. This creates local jobs and provides a level field of competition for our international partners.

Bentonville in the northwest corner of Arkansas has been recognized as the fifth fastest-growing city in the United States. This growth is the result of international trade. Bentonville is the home of Walmart, which has investments across the world, including India, China, Europe, and South America.

The United States needs to work every day to open more markets and negotiate trading relationships that are fair. This means we must be able to protect our intellectual property rights, and our exporters should not be hampered by protective tariffs and other trade barriers.

By maintaining a robust and fair-trade policy, all parties benefit. We are able to export our goods and services, and the world sees the free market at work.

Asa Hutchinson is the 46th governor of the State of Arkansas.

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