The global market is helping lift Nebraska’s economy, and new trade talks by the U.S. government have great potential to open more doors overseas.
Last year, Nebraska exported a record $7.6 billion worth of goods and services overseas, a 30 percent increase from the year before. Things were similar in Iowa, where its $13.3 billion in exports in 2011 set a new record for the state.
Overseas sales of Midlands agricultural products are a huge part of this region’s export picture, of course. The new trade agreement with South Korea is expected in particular to open up major new opportunities for the ag sector.
Export opportunities for Midlands manufacturing enterprises also have been huge. Canada is the major market for our area’s manufacturers of combines and threshers, and irrigation-equipment companies such as Valmont Industries and Lindsay Corp. are finding major opportunities in Russia and Ukraine.
A recent World-Herald article on Grand Island-based Chief Industries, which sells a diversified set of manufactured products to dozens of countries, noted that “strong export growth” has been one of the company’s keys to success. Chief Industries was named large manufacturer of the year by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
As we recently noted here, a new study on the Great Plains economy for Texas Tech University found that from 2007 to 2010, Nebraska increased its manufacturing exports by 68 percent. That was the largest increase of any state in the Plains region.
Creighton economics professor Ernie Goss noted in a World-Herald news story last spring: “In Nebraska, we’re shining because we’re trading, because we’re exporting. If we didn’t have trade, I don’t know where we’d be.”
President Barack Obama has set a goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years, and Daniel Drezner, an international relations expert at Tufts University in Massachusetts, points to a wide range of U.S. negotiations for new trade agreements:
A multi-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership. A global agreement on reduced barriers to services. A U.S.-European Union agreement. And a bilateral trade agreement with China as well as one with India.
During the Great Depression, countries responded to economic hardship by erecting high trade barriers that wound up stifling growth. These days, foreign markets are helping Nebraska lift its economy. Let’s continue to open up new opportunities and maximize the benefits.