My dad worked at Boeing for 30 years and was part of the original commercial hydrofoil team – his favorite project. I remember going to the “family day” launch celebration as a little girl, and then – as a teenager – was able to actually ride the hydrofoil from Hong Kong to Macao while spending a year living, working, and studying in Taiwan and China. I also realized that the same produce (apples, cherries, and other groceries) that my grandfather spent 40 years as a Safeway truck driver moving back and forth between Wenatchee and Tukwila was being moved by others to foreign markets. This was my first real “lived insight” as to how what we do here at home – in Renton, Auburn, Wenatchee – matters to and depends on how we show up around the world. That’s one of the reasons I’m acutely aware of the importance of working with our trade partners to ensure a sound economy. It’s a complex diplomatic dance that not only affects us as Americans and Washingtonians, but even more personally – as workers and providers for our families.
And we’re now facing unnecessarily perilous times – brought about not by external forces in the world market, but by rash and injudicious statements by President Trump. International trade accounts for more than a quarter of Washington state’s GDP and 40 percent of our jobs are tied to such trade. Yet, our President, to the dismay of both parties, has opted to invite a trade war – this time with China – that has potentially devastating results for the 8th District. In 2017, China purchased in the neighborhood of $50 million in apples from Washington state, along with $1.5 million in pears, and a whopping $127 million in cherries. And in response to the White House’s threat of obscene tariffs, China – the top export market for our cherries, pears, and apples – will impose a 15 percent tariff. That’s a penalty that the farmers on the east side of our district cannot bear. And on the west side of our district, concerns focus on the how the Chinese tariffs will affect aircraft manufacturing. So far, they’ve only targeted specific Boeing 737 models (which is bad enough), but looking at the bigger picture, a trade war that sparks a global recession would mean an enormous downturn in aircraft sales – and a job-killer for our region. And we haven’t even begun to talk about the huge number of other manufacturers and small businesses that rely on foreign trade.
Not only is this instability damaging, but it also has a chilling effect on new opportunities. We rely on expanding markets overseas and developing new ones – either with new partners or for innovative products produced here in Washington and across the country. We must strive to minimize damage and maximize opportunities that serve our workers and businesses.
For those reasons, your next representative in the 8th District must combine an understanding of our jobs and families with experience in global diplomacy – the kind of experience that I’ve gained over decades of working with diplomats and governments to combat disease. And the kind of experience that will allow me to focus on the following:
- Standing up to and speaking out against the kind of “shoot-from-the-hip” ego-driven diplomacy that threatens our global, national, and local economy, and stabilizing relationships with our allies by demonstrating a check on the White House by Congress;
- Enforcing existing trade agreements to ensure a level playing field for Washington businesses – specifically calling out currency manipulation, unfair government subsidies, and sub-par labor, environmental, and health standards that undercut our industries. This means avoiding broad-brush/one-size-fits all condemnation and, rather, holding specific bad players accountable in real-time;
- Understanding that solutions to trade issues must be nuanced and specific (not “one-size-fits-all”), to recognize and serve the diverse businesses and industries of the 8th and to work toward agreements that best benefit us all;
- Opening markets for Washington farmers and producers of goods by breaking down export barriers, supporting fair trade agreements, and exploring new opportunities to ship products overseas;
- Maintaining, improving, and updating the North American Free Trade Agreement to the benefit of our state’s manufacturers, workers, ranchers, and farmers. We now have decades of experience of what has and has not worked well in NAFTA, and need to use that experience to apply fixes to this agreement and all other future agreements that require strong labor, environmental, and health standards – and include provisions for enforcing them;
- Addressing use of the White House “fast-track authority” used under both Republican and Democratic Administrations in trade negotiations – to improve early inclusion of labor and consumer interests;
- Being vigilant and eliminating opportunities for foreign entities to use trade to non-transparently undercut U.S. laws.