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International trade boosts Iowa’s economy

By Staff | Jul 17, 2009

International trade is an important contributor to economic prosperity in Iowa.

According to the Business Roundtable, about 2,500 Iowa companies export their products and services internationally.

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that more than 16 percent of Iowa manufacturing workers have jobs that depend in to a significant degree on exports. Information released recently by Sen. Charles Grassley underlines the importance of international commerce to Iowans. According to data from the Commerce Department shared with the public by the Iowa Republican, Iowa exported $12.1 billion in merchandise in 2008. That’s up by 25 percent from 2007 and a remarkable 89 percent since 2004.

The export of farm goods is an especially important component of the trade picture.

Beef and pork producers are key players in the state’s agricultural economy and both benefit greatly from international customers. The Global Trade Information Service has calculated that the Hawkeye State exports beef products to more than 21 countries and pork products to about 41.

Grassley estimates that every third row of Iowa crops is destined for a market outside the United States.

Keeping the international marketplace functioning properly requires that the United States have sensible trade agreements with many other nations. No one likes to see jobs once performed American workers shifted overseas, but alarmist, exaggerated claims in that regard are holding up needed trade agreements.

“The facts show that trading with the world is in the best interest of the United States and Iowa,” Grassley said in a statement released July 2.

Grassley is calling for prompt approval of important trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that appear to be delayed in Congress.

“Failing to implement our agreements with them will force U.S. exporters to compete with one hand tied behind their backs. It means they lose opportunities to foreign competitors,” Grassley said.

Farm News agrees heartily. These trade pacts should be adopted without delay. They are good for Iowa and all of America.

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