Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trade Works Both Ways

From an article in today's Washington Post, U.S. Exporters Feel Favorable Trade Winds: Companies Lifted by Rising Tide of Foreign Sales, Particularly in China:

"On Capitol Hill, some lawmakers portray Chinese imports as a threat to national prosperity, and Democratic leaders argue that free-trade pacts have sold out American workers; a hearing is scheduled in the House for today. Last year's election reflected anxiety about the strength of American companies in a global economy.

But the nation's shop floors present an alternate view: The United States is in the midst of an export boom, with foreign sales chipping away at the country's enormous trade deficit while providing a modest cushion against the declining housing market.

In the first 11 months of 2006, U.S. exports reached $1.31 trillion, a jump of 13.1% over the corresponding period in 2005, the Commerce Department said. That was an improvement over the 10.7% gain of the year before. Recent monthly figures show exports growing nearly three times as fast as imports. Economists say exports are being propelled by a falling dollar, which has lost nearly 10% of its value compared with other currencies since 2002, making U.S. goods cheaper on world markets.

Exports to China -- whose dominance on American store shelves stokes worry -- increased by 33% in the first 11 months of 2006. Combined with Hong Kong, China now stands as the United States' third-largest export market, behind only Canada and Mexico."

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