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Dallas/Fort Worth Leaders Head South for Opportunity

The fact that Dallas' Mike Rawlings, a Democrat, and Fort Worth's Betsy Price, a Republican, went looking for markets for Texas products and investment dollars for Texas firms runs counter to what we are seeing and hearing this election year.

Article by William McKenzie June 16, 2016 //   3 minute read

The trade mission that the mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth led to Mexico earlier this month not only could payoff economically for North Texans, it also was refreshing to hear two leaders giving voice to the benefits of commerce moving across borders.

The fact that Dallas' Mike Rawlings, a Democrat, and Fort Worth's Betsy Price, a Republican, went looking for markets for Texas products and investment dollars for Texas firms runs counter to what we are seeing and hearing this election year. If nothing else, the campaign season has released a pent-up anger toward international trade. Maybe not here in Texas, but certainly in places like Ohio and Indiana. 

Sound-bites will not turn back the growing protectionism. But the Rawlings-Price trade mission reveals the benefit of being an open society that values a flow of commerce across borders. That flow is really about opportunity, as hard as this may be for some frustrated workers to hear.

Look at the world around us. From Asia to Latin America to Europe, people want our technologies, our autos, our agriculture, among other products.

The people in Silicon Valley, Austin, and Seattle who produce the latest technologies need customers around the world. The jobs of auto workers in Detroit depend in part upon their companies being able to sell cars to workers in emerging economies. And farmers and ranchers in the Texas Panhandle, Kansas, and Nebraska can sell their beef and crops around the world if the flow of commerce is kept open and moving.

At the same time, the products that flow from nations like China, Mexico, and Japan onto the shelves of our stores ease our cost-of-living. The less we have to pay for a pair of jeans, the more we have to buy food or save for that rainy day.

To be sure, the globalized economy disrupts ways of life. Those of us who see international trade as an opportunity need to keep finding ways to help those who endure those disruptions. New York Times columnist David Brooks noted recently the addiction and mental health needs of displaced workers and their communities. Perhaps this is part of the next wave of helping workers who have lost their jobs and the towns in which they live.

But do we really want to be a nation that builds walls between nations, especially when the Internet is so adept at creating opportunities and markets across borders? It’s hard to see the benefit. Mayors Rawlings and Price certainly don’t.