May 22, 2001
President George W. Bush
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC), I would like to commend you for proclaiming this week to be World Trade Week. It is extraordinarily important to recognize the impact of trade on our nation's economic strength and the power of trade to have equally positive effects on economies all over the world. We applaud this new initiative.
However, we at CITAC are deeply concerned that the importance of imports to our American economy was not highlighted in your proclamation. We represent several hundred American companies and trade associations, and many millions of American workers, all of whom depend on imported raw materials, components, or final products to succeed in the global economy. Consuming industries include American producers of electrical equipment, oil and gas drilling contractors and producers, automobile manufacturers, makers of fabricated metal products, food equipment and other products as well as farmers and retailers.
Indeed, the largest category of goods imported into the United States is not consumer goods, but capital goods, industrial supplies and materials. Imports enable U.S. farmers and manufacturers to avail themselves of lower-cost inputs to production, thereby lowering the cost of products grown or made in the United States. Moreover, more than two-thirds of firms involved in direct importing are small businesses employing less than 100 workers.
Imports benefit U.S. employment. According to a 1998 study, imports support 10 million American jobs. Many of them are high paying jobs, including jobs in finance, transportation, communications, and manufacturing. The same study found that 516,000 workers holding import-related jobs are union members, including transportation equipment manufacturing workers, textile and apparel workers, and transportation workers (e.g., longshoremen).
Import-related jobs are spread across the United States. More than a quarter are located in central city areas, indicating that import-related jobs go a long way toward providing employment opportunities for workers in inner-city urban areas.
Unfortunately, our access to imports is continually eroding as a result of initiatives by domestic industries that cannot compete in the global economy and choose instead to seek protection through government-imposed trade restrictions. The domestic steel industry, the softwood lumber industry, textile industry and sugar producers, and many others are all excellent examples of this disturbing trend.
We are concerned that the omission of imports from your Proclamation perpetuates a myth that the United States only benefits from trade by exporting. This, as noted, is not true and robs those of us concerned about expanding trade of a powerful argument for trade liberalization. We must not adopt policies to impede the flow of beneficial imports into our economy. Imports are the life-blood of millions of businesses employing millions of American workers.
Again, we congratulate you on World Trade Week. We would be delighted to meet with you or your staff to discuss in more detail the views of consuming industries. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at .