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Economy

Imports aren't just about lower prices

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In the past decade, the price of television sets sold in the United States has dropped 87 percent. Computers have gone down 75 percent, toys 43 percent and dishes and flatware by a third.

Why? The answer is easy – imports.

That might not come as a big surprise to most. NRF has argued for years that imported merchandise lets retailers provide American families with the high-quality products they demand at the prices they can afford.

What might be surprising, however, is that imports also help create U.S. jobs. A total of 16 million American jobs – including 1.8 million in retail alone – are tied to imports. That amounts to 9 percent of U.S. employment.

Those statistics and more come from “Imports Work for America,” a new study conducted for NRF, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Consumer Electronics Association and the American Apparel and Footwear Association. Written by economists Laura Baughman and Joseph Francois of the Trade Partnership Worldwide, the study is being released as part of “Imports Work Week” to help draw attention to the important role imports play in the United States and global economy.

Among other things, the study shows that imports aren’t just about retailers and consumers. U.S. manufactures rely on imported inputs to production and raw materials to make many of the goods they export around the world. And on the flip side, many imported finished products include Made-in-the-USA components.

And while importers are often portrayed as big businesses, it turns out that more than half of U.S. importers are small businesses.

This study is an important read for anyone interested in the retail supply chain and international trade.  It provides an important view as to why imports are not as bad as some make them out to be. Imports help drive the U.S. economy and employment just as much as exports, and often times help to drive U.S. exports to overseas markets.

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