Tom Still: Global economy is becoming reality
WISCONSIN TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL

Tom Still: Global economy is becoming reality

  • 0
{{featured_button_text}}
Tom Still

Still

APPLETON, Wis. — There are many reasons why people in Wisconsin and elsewhere can be skeptics when it comes to the global economy.

Whether it’s the coronavirus outbreak, seemingly endless debates over tariffs and trade pacts, or worries over jobs being lost overseas, people can be tempted to think it’s time to crawl into a manhole and cover it from above.

If only it were that simple – or even possible.

The reality of today’s economy is that connections that range from digital to physical have transformed how people around the world work and live, usually for the better.

Wisconsin’s geographic position in the middle of the United States may insulate the state from some trends, but the diversity of its economy means it can provide the goods and services the world needs while also attracting investment from abroad.

The reach of the global economy in Wisconsin and how it strengthens the state was the topic of a Feb. 4 Tech Council Innovation Network luncheon at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, where a group gathered to hear about exports, foreign direct investment and ways companies can better take advantage of global opportunities.

Katy Sinnott, who heads the international business development arm of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., explained how sectors of the state economy fit into the global picture and why so many people outside the United States see Wisconsin as a strong place to invest.

The result in both cases is more jobs.

“Globalization is upon us. We may have had some difficult times, but it’s not going away,” said Sinnott, whose background include decades of experience doing business overseas.

Both exports and foreign direct investment, or FDI, explain why that’s true.

There are 720 companies in Wisconsin backed by foreign owners, with nearly half in manufacturing (48 percent) and the rest spread among sectors such as wholesale trade, finance, insurance, retail trade, technical services and more.

Collectively, those companies accounted for 108,000 Wisconsin jobs in 2019.

While China has been a growing export destination for Wisconsin goods and services, it doesn’t show up in the list of top FDI sources in the state.

That list is led by Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Switzerland, Sweden and Italy, all of which have invested in 10 or more Wisconsin companies.

Sinnott illustrated the point by talking about three Japanese-owned companies – Komatsu Joy Global, Fujifilm-Cellular Dynamics and Hitachi Metals-Waupaca Foundry – that represent nearly $2 billion in recent investment. They have built on a history of Japanese investment that dates to Kikkoman Foods planting a flag in Wisconsin more than 40 years ago.

On the export side of the picture, Wisconsin’s leading trade partners have been Canada, Mexico, China, Germany and the United Kingdom. The coronavirus lockdown in China will likely reduce 2020 exports from Wisconsin – and has already led to the cancelling of a WEDC trade mission there.

However, Sinnott noted, Phase 1 of a U.S.-China trade agreement may help over time, especially if intellectual property provisions stick. Similarly, the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement should provide relief to the state’s dairy and poultry industries while strengthening “rules of origin” for U.S.-made components and digital trade.

Industry sectors that lead Wisconsin’s export mix include industrial machinery, agricultural products, electrical machinery, medical and scientific instruments, vehicles, plastics, paper products and aerospace products.

Tech-based products and services are imbedded throughout those sectors. An estimated 200,000 Wisconsin jobs are tied to exports.

With demonstrated returns on investment, what prevents more Wisconsin companies from becoming exporters?

For many, Sinnott said, it’s worries about getting paid in a world where currency needs to flow cleanly across borders. Others worry about language barriers or simply getting in the door in an unfamiliar country.

That’s where WEDC programs such as ExporTech, International Market Access Grants and an international network that includes about 90 contracted trade representatives can help, Sinnott said. Companies that complete the ExporTech program typically see double-digit revenue increases within a year.

Wisconsin’s economy is already globalized and there’s no turning back. The goal should be building on opportunities that exist while ensuring that state companies and workers come out on top.

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He can be reached at tstill@wisconsintechnologycouncil.com.

0
0
0
0
0

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

The story surfaced like one of those trial balloons we're used to seeing out of political offices and campaigns - Republican insiders telling Fox News that President Donald Trump is grumpy about his reelection prospects and might quit the campaign if his poll numbers don't improve. Let him. But don't count on it. The campaign rejected the notion, calling it the "granddaddy of fake news." The ...

Donald Trump is responsible for a fair amount of badness in the 3 { years he's served as president of the United States: Dismantling and denigrating American institutions, encouraging white supremacy, locking up immigrant children, asking a foreign government to interfere with an American election, lying 5 million times. And those are just a few things off the top of my head. And while it's ...

  • Updated

Commentators have been busy trying to discern what Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was up to when he joined the Supreme Court's four liberals Monday in striking down a Louisiana abortion law virtually identical to a Texas statute the court overturned in 2016. Was he cynically voting to save the Republican Party from the political fallout of an anti-abortion ruling? Or maybe a concern for the ...

Attorney General William P. Barr sat down for an interview with NPR and did little to dispel the impression that he's run his office in ways that benefit President Donald Trump's personal and political interests. "Morning Edition's" Steve Inskeep asked Barr about a series of incidents in which the Justice Department under his leadership seemed to come to the rescue of Trump associates: the ...

"DC should be a state. Pass it on." That's the message supporters of D.C. statehood pushed on social media late last week as the U.S. House of Representatives prepared to vote on D.C. statehood. And on June 26, for the first time in our nation's history, the majority-Democrat U.S. House of Representatives passed along party lines (save for a lone defection) a bill that would create the ...

The effectiveness of DNA testing and searches of the national DNA database is well-known. Over the last three decades, 137 wrongly convicted people were exonerated through DNA database "hits," which identified the person who had actually committed the crime. Currently, all 50 states, as well as the federal government provide some kind of right to post-conviction DNA testing. But there is no ...

The federal government's response to COVID-19 has been haphazard, mismanaged and ultimately deadly. Yet the Trump administration is trumpeting the country's "success" against the pandemic, with the vice president recently declaring that the U.S. response to COVID-19 is "cause for celebration." As doctors, we are not celebrating. With more than 125,000 people in the United States dead from ...

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a huge spike in layoffs, leaving tens of millions of Americans without the employer-sponsored health insurance that had protected their families. But the 2010 Affordable Care Act offered a safety net for them - laid-off workers can sign up for replacement coverage for themselves and their families through their state insurance exchanges. And according to the Kaiser ...

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News