Each day, Imports Work for America Week will highlight a different theme. Select a date to read more about the theme or scroll through for an overview of the entire week.
Imports work for U.S. jobs
Imported products support many jobs in the United States. Most people realize that imports help the dockworkers that unload the ships, the railworkers and truckers that transport the goods, and finally the wholesalers and retailers that sell the end products. Yet many more (high-paying) jobs rely on imports.
A lawyer might draft a sales contract, while a public relations firm will create an advertising campaign around the product. In turn, taxes collected on final sales – as well as the wages of all of the people in this extended supply chain – provide funding for teachers, police officers, and other local government services.
Imports work for American families
American families feel the benefits of imports most widely. While every worker may not have a job directly or even indirectly touched by imports, every person from the youngest to the most senior family member benefits directly from imports through reduced prices and greater variety.
Did you know that one quarter of all U.S. foods imports are considered “non-competitive” by USDA, meaning that they not produced in most of the United States? These include staples like coffee, chocolate, and tropical fruit. Products that are more likely to be imported (e.g., TVs, computers, toys) have experienced declining trends in prices, compared to goods and services that are less likely to be traded (e.g., healthcare, college education, eggs).
Imports work for U.S. manufacturing
The largest category of goods imported into the United States is not consumer goods, but capital goods (e.g. machinery) and industrial supplies and materials (most notably, oil), which comprised more than 62 percent of the $2.1 trillion in goods Americans imported in 2011.
Lower costs and access to foreign materials allow American manufacturers to compete both at home and around the world. In fact, import and export growth often go hand-in-hand: U.S. companies import components from the rest of the world and export finished goods and vice versa. As a result, the fastest growing export markets for U.S. companies are also the ones from which imports have increased the most. When U.S. manufacturers lose access to competitively priced imports, American workers lose their jobs.
Imports work for economic development
A rising tide lifts all boats, and imports help create better economic conditions both at home and abroad. Change may not occur overnight, but increasing wages in China, an African apparel industry, and improving labor conditions in Cambodia are all tied to U.S. imports from those countries. An expanding middle class in these rapidly growing countries presents new opportunities for American exporters.
Beyond economic benefits, promoting development throughout the world can compliment the United States’ national security and foreign policy goals. Import programs like GSP and AGOA require beneficiary countries to uphold human rights, labor rights, and anti-terrorism commitments.
Imports Work for America: A Policy Agenda
U.S. trade policies and practices often limit the benefits of imports to the U.S. economy. While the United States maintains generally low tariffs, certain products like apparel and footwear continue to face tariffs of up to 60 percent. While import programs like GSP and AGOA help reduce costs for both families and manufacturers, short-term renewals and complicated rules-of-origin erode reduce program utilization.
Individual organizations and companies will identify specific policy issues that they support to advance the ideas developed over the course of Imports Week. As an ad hoc coalition, we do not expect every organization and company to support or champion every idea, but we hope multiple ideas will emerge during Imports Week that provide a tangible springboard for future Administration or Congressional actions.