Utah’s international exports should hit $12 billion this year

Utah’s international trade continues to grow, and the state is on pace to finish the year up 3% over 2016.

Derek Miller, President and CEO of World Trade Center Utah says by the end of 2017, Utah’s international trade exports should total somewhere north of $12 billion.

“I tell people all the time that exporting goods is importing money,” said Miller in an interview with UtahPolicy.com. “That’s $12 billion that’s coming into our economy. We’re the sixth-fastest growing export economy in the country right now, which is tremendous for a state of only 3 million people.”

Miller also discussed President Donald Trump’s recent trip to Asia. One of his campaign promises was to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which he did when he took office in favor of unilateral trade deals.

“I don’t mind the fact that the president says he wants to do unilateral trade deals, but the problem is we’re not doing them. We need to get out there and get busy and sign some deals. There’s no reason we couldn’t have negotiated a deal with Japan or Vietnam while he was there,” says Miller.

However, Miller says Trump’s insistence on pulling the U.S. out of existing trade deals does have a positive side.

“We are starting to see some fruit coming out of the tremendous amount of pressure that President Trump is putting on China,” he says. “We’re starting to see more concessions and more trade barriers coming down. I wish that we had been part of a trade deal, but at least in China, we’re starting to make some progress. The first company ever to break into the Chinese market exporting beef was a Utah company, so that’s pretty cool.”

Miller just returned from a trade mission in the middle east where they took 50 Utah companies to Israel and Jordan. Miller says when they met with the King of Jordan, they learned something quite unexpected.

“We met with King Abdullah the Second of Jordan. Governor Gary Herbert asked if he had ever been to Utah, and the king replied he had been many times before. Gov. Herbert thought he was confused and possibly talking about Colorado or California. It turns out the King likes to come and ride dirt bikes in Utah!”

Miller says Gov. Herbert was a little shocked to learn that the King had been in Utah without anyone knowing. 

“The king said they don’t like to make a big deal about their visits,” said Miller with a laugh.