|Not So Fast There,|
What's missing from Trump's politically repetitive tirades is a grasp of how his pugnacious approach to foreign trade might have consequences for Americans whose personal livelihoods and surrounding economic settings might be affected by his hard-line approach. Getting fair and mutually lucrative trade deals is everybody's goal, but I wonder if Trump understands the benefits that Americans get from the trade deals (NAFTA, WTO, among others) that are already in place. On a manufacturing level, consider that General Motors sells twice as many vehicles overseas as it does in the United States, including more cars in China than here at home. Many are manufactured in or close to their markets, of course, but the profits are repatriated here, as millions of GM shareholders and their 5% dividends happily know. As far as domestic activity, the U.S. auto industry is responsible for over 7 million jobs (including a 50% gain in direct employment since 2004), many of them created by foreign-owned companies like Nissan, Toyota and Honda, among others.
Here on the South Dakota homefront, the situation is just as meaningful. According to the Business Roundtable, trade supports 130,000 (or 22%) of our jobs. 10% of those jobs are with companies that are mostly foreign-owned. Last year South Dakota exported $1.4 billion worth of manufactured goods, about $1 billion of which went to our NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico. Our ag exports were even more stunning, totaling about $4.3 billion. Since 2005, SD ag exports to
Numbers like these should be in the backs of our minds as we assess the hostile rhetoric that Donald Trump has directed at our trade policies. My general sense is that Trump's bad-mouthing assumes that our trading partners will willingly go along with his threatened actions. History shows that it doesn't work that way and that retaliation is the most likely result, something we most definitely do not need here in South Dakota.