Washington state Governor Jay Inslee unfortunately put his economic ignorance on display recently with his comments about coal exports. According to the Governor, Boeing would somehow be harmed if we gave South Korea, Japan, and China greater access to affordable energy through allowing coal exports from our ports. Gov. Inslee argued that Boeing somehow benefits if Washington denies China coal exports, as forcing the Asian superpower to buy dirtier, more expensive coal from someone else gives us some competitive advantage.
He’s wrong. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The stronger our trade partners, the stronger our own economy gets. Asia is one of the largest drivers of Washington’s economy and represents Boeing’s largest export market. The region accounts for over half of all projected new air traffic over the next 20 years. In fact, China and Japan are Washington’s top two export markets. In 2011 alone, Boeing sold $4 billion worth of products to China.
And the Governor’s flawed logic doesn’t stop at trade economics. His plan to shut the door on Washington’s biggest trading partners by withholding an essential commodity like coal does nothing for the environment either. In addition to killing jobs in America and reducing growth in Asia, an export ban will only lead to the use of dirtier coal supplied by other countries to China. Further, after decades of transporting coal by train without notice or incident, are we to believe that suddenly it is some kind of environmental crisis?
There are clear benefits to promoting coal exports; increased job, additional tax revenue and the large capital investment being proposed. But the bottom line for Washingtonian is that we don’t gain anything by blocking free trade. In a state where 40% of all jobs are trade related that should be self-evident.
[featured image credit: Jeremy Buckingham MLC]