Can New Mexico Survive a Trade War?

protectionism

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has made it clear that he’s no fan of free trade. And that’s why all those working to boost New Mexico’s woefully underperforming economy need to be concerned.

Trade is arguably the only sector of the Land of Enchantment’s economy on the upswing. Despite the brutality of the Great Recession and a subpar recovery, between 2009 and 2015, jobs connected to the exports of goods — not services, it’s worth noting — more than doubled, according to the International Trade Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Intel’s products dominate the state’s exports, but a pretty wide range of goods leaves New Mexico for customers aboard — including heavy equipment, medical supplies, compressors, aircraft parts, chemicals, plastics, circuits, and fertilizers. Agriculture plays a big role as well. Among the states, New Mexico is third in the export of tree nuts and ninth in dairy products. We export beef, cotton, and vegetables, too.

The top destination for New Mexico’s exports? You guessed it: Mexico. Israel ranks second, followed by Canada. China lands at #4, with Belgium rounding out the top five.

In September, the Albuquerque Journal reported that exports to Mexico “grew 17.4 percent in the first half of 2016, from $758 million from January-June of last year to $890 million this year,” while sales to Asia “increased by 173 percent from January-June of this year.”

“Renegotiate” NAFTA? Slap a 45 percent tariff on imports from China? New Mexico can’t afford that kind of dunderheaded protectionism.

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