One reason for the Imports Work for America initiative is building frustration that policymakers focus only on the benefits of exports and ignore (or disparage) imports. This week has been about providing specific examples on how imports work for American jobs, families, and manufacturing – as well as economic development more generally.
Will anyone listen? Providing facts is different than changing minds, and it won't happen overnight. Yet hopefully this chart illustrates that attempts to increase exports and limit imports are unlikely to achieve their goals.
Our fastest growing export markets (e.g., India, China, Nigeria, Russia, Colombia) are also the countries from which imports have grown the most. Saudi Arabia is a bit of an outlier, but U.S. export growth averaged 9% per year (still not too shabby).
This isn't just a matter of development level, as the general pattern holds for developed countries too. Within Europe, the Netherlands and Switzerland rank either first or second in both U.S. export and import growth. Similarly, Japan ranks either last or second-to-last among all trading partners in both export and import growth.
As supply chains become even more global and the share of trade in intermediates increases (as noted by WTO DG Pascal Lamy earlier this week), this trend of exports and imports growing together will likely continue.