I was happy to hear in last night’s State of the Union address mention of U.S. manufacturing. Specifically, President Bush talked about free trade agreements with Colombia, Peru, Panama and South Korea and finding new markets for American goods. An excerpt from the speech:
“On trade, we must trust American workers to compete with anyone in the world and empower them by opening up new markets overseas. Today, our economic growth increasingly depends on our ability to sell American goods, crops, and services all over the world. So we are working to break down barriers to trade and investment wherever we can. We are working for a successful Doha round of trade talks, and we must complete a good agreement this year. At the same time, we are pursuing opportunities to open up new markets by passing free trade agreements.”
I have to admit I was skeptical about increasing U.S. exports. But I haven’t checked trade statistics for awhile, so I checked the National Association of Manufacturers’ site (which has a small and medium business division). The top 5 U.S. manufactured exports include ICs and micro assemblies; aircraft, launch craft and space vehicles; motorcars and other vehicles for transporting people; parts and accessories for motor vehicles; and automatic data processing machines. These are big-ticket items. That’s pretty good. Digging deeper, I found that U.S. exports are, in fact, growing and growth is expected to continue.
As I’ve mentioned before, statistics alone don’t tell the whole story. This data doesn’t reflect employment, the impact of the housing market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and a hundred other things that are contributing to a nasty domestic economic environment. But I was pleasantly surprised by these statistics which do support one fact mentioned in the speech: American workers can compete with anyone in the world.