The Importance of Imports
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Over the past few years, Washington has focused anew on the importance of boosting American exports. This makes a lot of sense: cash-strapped consumers, regulation-burdened businesses, and a deficit-ridden government lack the resources to kick-start vigorous growth anytime soon.
By contrast, exports loom as a terrific engine for growth: Outside our borders are markets that represent 80% of the world’s purchasing power, 92% of its economic growth, and 95% of its consumers. The opportunities are immense.
But exports are just half of the trade equation. That’s why the U.S. Chamber has joined with other associations and think tanks to make this “Imports Work for America” week.
While boosting exports is vital, this is a great chance to remind ourselves that imports are also important to America.
Today, we’re focusing on jobs. With 13 million Americans out of work, creating new jobs is arguably our nation’s top priority.
It turns out that millions of Americans work in sectors that are dominated by imports. For example, while imports account for 98% of the apparel and 99% of the footwear sold in the U.S., these industries directly employ more than four million workers right here at home, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association.
These workers are designers, logistics experts, retail associates, manufacturers, sourcing managers, merchandisers, marketing professionals, and more. The median salary for these workers is $70,000.
At times, confusion arises because goods are labeled with their country of final assembly, even when most of their value added is “made in America.” All kinds of technology products, for instance, register as imports in U.S. trade statistics because they are assembled in Asia, but U.S. innovators often realize three-quarters or more of the value from each unit sold, according to a growing array of studies.
In short, there are lots of American jobs behind those imports.
Tomorrow we’ll see why imports are important to American families…