Trade crucial to Ohio economy

Buckeye Farm News

Ohio Farm Bureau is continuing to share the message that job growth and a strengthened economy would result from expanding Ohio’s position in international trade. Ohio’s export industry is a bright spot in the state’s economy and has the potential to generate additional personal income and government revenues, the organization said in a recent news release. 

“The world wants to buy what we’re good at making and growing. That’s a strength we need to capitalize on,” said Jack Fisher, OFBF’s executive vice president.

OFBF is calling on the Obama administration and U.S. Congress to enact pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. FTAs improve market access and reduce tariffs. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that at the end of this year there will be more than 600 bilateral or regional FTAs in place around the world with the United States being party to fewer than 25.

“Our competitors are making deals. We’re sitting on the sidelines,” Fisher said.

Nearly 26 percent of Ohio’s manufacturing jobs are dependent on exports, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and 12,384 Ohio companies sell products abroad, with 88 percent of these firms being small-or medium-sized businesses.

The Ohio Department of Development reported that last year, Ohio exported nearly $34.1 billion in products, ranking Ohio as the seventh largest exporting state. Ohio is the largest exporter of glass and glassware, the second largest exporter of automotive and rubber goods, the third largest exporter of iron and steel products, the fourth largest exporter of plastics and the fifth largest exporter of machinery. Ohio firms also ship large amounts of chemicals, computers, paper, furniture, textiles and appliances.

The food chain also accounts for a large share of Ohio’s exported output and demonstrates the potential for growth. Ohio farm product shipments totaled $2.68 billion last year, a 69 percent increase over the level of five years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

“Ninety-five percent of our potential customers live outside our borders. Exporting to them accounts for a lot of paychecks and a lot of tax revenue. The public conversation needs to recognize this reality,” Fisher said.

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