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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

November 21, 2011 at 9:26 AM

At Washington Trade Conference, a push for new deals

“Washington’s Global Competitiveness in the 21st Century” is the theme of the Washington Trade Conference at the Westin in downtown Seattle today. The market fall seems far removed from this ballroom, for better or worse. The first panel included Lou Ventino of Microsoft, Richard Wynne of Boeing, Michael Collins of REI and Steve Appel of the Washington State Farm Bureau. One big focus is the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade agreement. Support is strong, even though the U.S. has bi-lateral trade agreements with many of the TPP members.

A few highlights so far: Rep. Jay Inslee talked of improving freight infrastructure, developing clean tech industries and strengthening education in opening remarks. On the panel above, we hear that 97 percent of Washington’s produce is sold overseas. Getting Russia in the TPP and WTO could provide Boeing with another big supplier with titanium, especially important for composite planes such as the 787. Russia has the 10th largest economy but is America’s 37th largest trading partner.

Reading between the lines: TPP is a manifestation of the failure of the Doha round and the WTO in general. Would it really mean more jobs for most of America? That’s a different conversation. This is a pro-trade crowd. Right now a Canadian minister is cautioning against “protectionist” measures such as buy American policies. He’s also pushing the tar sands pipeline.

You can follow my live tweets (Twitter @jontalton) and others, #watradeconf

Now, about the markets. Pay attention to China, not the political spin about the Super Committee that was never going to bridge our great divide. A Chinese official spoke over the weekend about a sustained world recession even as foreign investment in China showed a net outflow in October. More about this later.

Today’s Econ Haiku

Failure in D.C.

Came before the supers flopped

A house divided

Comments | More in Debt ceiling debate, Environment, Housing, Trade

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