What Exactly is Fair Trade?

By: Alice Ancona

The Florida Chamber of Commerce was recently in Washington, D.C., meeting with Florida’s Congressional delegation. Our timing could not have been better, as the Trump administration was pivoting its attention toward addressing taxes and trade. President Trump had just recently issued two executive orders on trade (more on that below) and many of our members had concerns about how this will impact services, manufactured exports and the retail industry as a whole.

As many of you can imagine, the terms “fair trade” came up, as did “leveling the playing field.” The Trump administration has made its goals clear: increase exports of U.S. manufactured goods, reduce the trade deficit, bring back profits multinationals keep in offshore accounts, attract more foreign direct investment and punish the bad actors. The path to achieving these goals is not yet clear. More importantly, what does this mean for Florida?

To say trade is a big deal to Florida is an understatement. Florida is heavily diversified in its export/trade portfolio:

  • Seventh in the U.S. for exports of agricultural commodities
  • Third in manufactured export intensity
  • 43,000-plus international students attend our state colleges and universities
  • 25 percent of Florida’s workforce is tied to international business
  • 12 percent of Florida’s residential market is made up of foreign buyers
  • 266,000-plus Floridians are employed by foreign companies

The figures speak for themselves. Not only is international trade a big deal for Florida but – realize it or not – it impacts every community across the state in different ways.

Consider this: 95 percent of the world’s consumers are located outside the U.S. and 45 percent of new jobs created in the past 15 years have been from international trade. Understanding how international trade impacts your community is essential to your success.

Now that we know what international trade means to Florida, perhaps the more important focus should be on what Florida’s goals are with regards to the global marketplace.

A Globally Competitive Economy

Florida is already the 16th largest economy in the world, but our goal is to have a $1 trillion economy by 2030, which will make our state economy the size of Mexico’s national economy. An important factor of this goal to is to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to grow and diversify our economy.

 

A Globally Competitive Workforce

We have to ensure that we have a world class education system in order to attract FDI investment and to ensure that our students will have a future in the global market place.

 

Globally Competitive Policy

We have to guard against policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., that will make Florida less competitive, and mitigate against unintended consequences to our state.
The global marketplace presents Florida with huge opportunities for continued success. Communities and businesses can benefit. Partnering and joining the Florida Chamber’s International Program should be part of your plan.

If you are interested in joining the Florida Chamber’s conversation about securing Florida’s future, please contact me at aancona@flchamber.com.