Letters: Fair trade helps Louisiana

Nov 29, 2018

The White House has put relations with our trading partners on the front burner. Today, our nation is engaged in high-stakes negotiations with other countries across the globe. The outcomes of these negotiations could dramatically impact all Americans, but perhaps none more so than Louisianans.

Residents of the Pelican State live in a regional economy very closely tied to international commerce. This is primarily due to our location; the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico, where goods from Louisiana’s waterways are exported around the world.

The Mississippi River connects 31 states and 26 million Americans. In fact, more than 60 percent of all grain exported from the United States is shipped via the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River Basin produces 92 percent of the nation’s agricultural exports and 78 percent of the world’s exports of feed grains and soybeans. Every year, over $21 billion in agriculture exports are shipped through Louisiana’s port system.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, nonagricultural exports, including petroleum, chemicals, resins and coal products from Louisiana totaled over $23 billion in 2017. That means Louisiana exported $56.5 billion dollars’ worth of goods in 2017, with China receiving the most — helping to ease our growing trade imbalance. Export activity in 2016, also created 128,623 local jobs.

By all accounts, trade agreements — like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — have been a boon for our economy. Since 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect, there has been a $6.2 billion increase in exports from Louisiana to Mexico and Canada.

In addition, countries around the world have continued to invest heavily in Louisiana. Since 2008, our state has secured more than $60 billion dollars in foreign direct investment, from 50 different countries. In fact, per capita, Louisiana has more FDI than any other state.

Because international commerce is so critical, the World Trade Center of New Orleans is hosting a weeklong event dedicated to exploring the importance of trade in Louisiana and to help send the message that all Louisianans have a vested interest in our nation’s trade policies and relations with our trade partners around the globe. Experts from across the country, and local leaders like Sen. Bill Cassidy and the governor’s office of Louisiana Economic Development, will meet in New Orleans and Baton Rouge to discuss the importance of trade to our region.

Ultimately, we have confidence that the president, and others in his administration, will do the right thing and ensure that the free flow of goods and commerce continues to generate wealth for Louisianans. We urge the president, and our trading partners, to come to the negotiating table quickly and create fair deals that help all nations succeed economically.

Caitlin Cain

CEO, World Trade Center of New Orleans 

Paul Aucoin

Executive Director, Port of South Louisiana, LaPlace