Utah is on an international business hot streak. New numbers from the World Trade Center Utah show that Utah’s exports jumped 9 percent last year. That’s following an 8 percent jump the year before.
World Trade Center Utah President and CEO Derek Miller says those numbers make Utah the fourth-fastest growing state in the country when it comes to exports.
“We’re now at $14.5 billion annually when it comes to exports, which is a big part of our economy. It supports 22 percent of all our jobs," said Miller.
Miller was a guest on the "I Have Questions with Bryan Schott" podcast. He says many Utah businesses that depend on international trade for their livelihood are worried about some of President-elect Donald Trump's protectionist rhetoric.
"Many Utah companies benefit from NAFTA. If we're talking about getting out of NAFTA, that's not just something that may come; that's something that's we're actually benefitting from. I believe in fair trade. The devil is in the details."
Miller says some protectionism can be good for the U.S. economy. He points to the tariffs imposed by President Bush when China was dumping cheap steel into American markets, making it difficult for American companies to compete.
Trump has been known to take after companies that displease him on Twitter. Recently, Toyota announced plans to open a manufacturing plant in Mexico, to which Trump tweeted "No way!" Miller says nobody wants to find themselves on the wrong end of a tweet from the president-elect, but that may not be the most productive way to encourage American business.
"Our focus ought to be on leveling playing fields. Then I would say, instead of berating companies that are thinking of doing business elsewhere, instead of bribing companies to stay, let's get focused on creating an ecosystem, an environment where companies want to stay where they can be successful. That's where we should be focused."