Free trade is a staple of the Texas economy and a catalyst for commerce. Though our border nation neighbors represent less than 4 percent of the global economy, they are powerhouse purchasers of Texas goods, buying substantial portions of major manufactured goods and creating well-paying jobs from Amarillo to Austin. In fact, they are the biggest buyers of Texas’ global manufactured goods, purchasing $123 billion in products annually — half of our total manufactured exports.
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, manufacturing directly supports nearly 115,000 jobs in Texas. And over the last decade, our petroleum and computer exports to Mexico and Canada have nearly tripled, supporting thousands of small and medium-sized businesses all across the state. But this continued economic growth could come to a halt at any minute if our channels for tariff-free trade across North America are interrupted.
As the CEO of the Texas Association of Business, the largest business association in Texas, representing more than 2,800 businesses, from major corporations to small start-ups, I understand the economic importance the manufacturing industry has in the Lone Star State. As manufacturers’ most critical partners, Canada and Mexico purchase one-fifth of the total value of U.S. manufacturing output — more than the next 11 countries combined. Exports to these two countries also support more than 12 million American jobs — more than 2 million of those directly tied to manufacturing.
And as a sixth-generation Texan, with a career spanning the public and private sector focusing on manufacturing, development, and growth, the only direction I know for our state is forward. If we don’t continue our robust efforts to export our manufactured goods to Canada and Mexico, that could devastate our manufacturing economy and trigger a destructive ripple effect throughout our economy.
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