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Shipping news: Let’s give no truck to protectionism

Shipping news: Let’s give no truck to protectionism

The Oklahoman Editorial

Populist rage against outsourcing jobs and Mexican trucks running on our interstates never seems to include the outsourcing of goods we make and ship in our own trucks to ocean ports.

Yet the export of Oklahoma-made goods brought more than $5 billion into the state last year, up by nearly $500 million from 2007, according to a report from The State Chamber.

International trade supports about 20 percent of the state’s manufacturing work force, the chamber said. This means hundreds of Oklahoma jobs are boosted because buyers in foreign companies want what we make. Yet labor groups are among the loudest complainers when it comes to free trade.

Protectionist sentiment in the Obama administration is a wild card at this point: Anti-free trade campaign rhetoric won’t necessarily translate into official policy. As he’s done with numerous campaign pledges, President Obama has backtracked on his vow to protect American jobs with trade restrictions.

Good thing. Many of those jobs depend on free trade going in the other direction — out of here and into foreign ports.

A chamber report says Oklahoma exports goods in more than 30 categories of products, led by oil and gas equipment. Oklahoma’s best trading partner is Canada, followed by Mexico. These are America’s allies in the North American Free Trade Agreement, a treaty Obama vowed to revisit.

Obama is amateur when it comes to trade, mucking up our relations with Mexico over truck restrictions demanded by unions. This can only hurt the Oklahoma workers who make what Mexico wants to buy.

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