Report: Trade tensions threaten Oregon, Portland economies
With international trade tensions continuing between the United State and China and other countries, a new report emphasizes that much of the state and regional economy is dependent on trade — and how many jobs are at risk in trade wars.
"An increase in policy barriers ultimately means less trade activity, leaving Oregon's economy vulnerable to job and wage impacts," says the 2019 State of Trade report, which was prepared by the ECONorthwest economic consulting firm for the Value of Jobs Coalition.
According to the report, international trade supports one-fifth of all jobs in Oregon, including 76,600 jobs in Portland. But at this time, the report reads, global markets are experiencing structural and cyclical changes, causing a cooldown on trade that is being exacerbated the shifting policies of the Trump Administration. Such protectionist policies as tariffs, trade quotas, or other restrictions could potentially lead to:
• The loss of market access for products, which may cause job loss and some companies to close.
• Small companies serving supply-chain, trade logistics and transportation needs losing business.
• Consumers and families paying more for basic goods.
The coalition includes the Port of Portland and several business organizations, including the Portland Business Alliance. It is scheduled to be presented at the alliance's monthly breakfast forum on Wednesday, June 19.
The report says that Oregon's location along the Pacific Rim and series of ports makes it ideal for international trade. It is one of only 12 states in the nation that exports more than it imports, driven by Oregon's high-tech, manufacturing and agriculture sectors. A total of 505,700 jobs across the state are currently supported by international trade.
Exports to Oregon's 150 trading partners also have been increasing every year, led by the agriculture industry that includes cheese, wheat, blueberries, cherries, potatoes, grasses and hay.
"Oregon's agricultural sector is feeding the world. We trade 80% of our agricultural products outside of Oregon and 40% internationally," according to the report.
Trade-related jobs also pay better than most other jobs, the report reads.
But, the report warns, some of the state's largest trading partners have been targeted or threatened with sanctions by the Trump Administration, including China, Canada and Mexico.
"Trade related activity with Canada and Mexico — partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and potentially the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — supported 154,000 Oregon jobs in 2017," the report says.
The warning is similar to concerns raised at the 2019 Portland-Vancouver region economic forecast presented by Portland State University Northwest Economic Research Center on Thursday, May 30. There, Ellen Zentner, the chief U.S. economist for Morgan Stanley, said continuing trade tensions with China could trigger a worldwide recession. She said the two countries must make progress resolving their differences by the G20 summit of leading industrialized countries scheduled for June 28-29 in Osaka, Japan.
The ECONorthwest report concludes by urging leaders to encourage the federal government to maintain key trade treaties like NAFTA, approve new agreements that will expand trade more, and strengthen support for local, state and federal
export assistance programs, helping small businesses enter the trade markets.
"Together, it's time to take action to protect the jobs, businesses,
and industries that keep Oregon competitive," the report says.
The Value of Jobs Coalition includes the Oregon Business County, Oregon Business and Industry, the Port of Portland, the Portland Business Alliance, and Greater Portland, Inc.
Find the report at portlandalliance.com/advocacy/2019-international-trade-report.html