Local Economies Need Trade in Aerospace

Aerospace and defense trade supports jobs all over the United States. In many states, the A&D sector is the largest exporter and is a key contributor to the local economy.

This is also true in my home state of Arkansas, where I had the opportunity to speak at the 2018 Summit for the Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance (AADA) about aerospace trade. Members of AADA range from some of AIA’s largest members to small and medium-sized companies supplying America’s aerospace and defense programs.

The AADA Summit provided the opportunity for attendees to learn about industry updates, trends, and best practices. Along with industry speakers, the attendees of the Summit also heard from Arkansas Lt. Governor Tim Griffin about the importance of STEM education for building a strong workforce and from Congressman Bruce Westerman on Capitol Hill updates impacting the sector.

While many outside of Arkansas’s borders think of poultry or rice when they think of products from the Natural State, the aerospace industry is the state’s leading exporter. These aerospace exports account for more than $1.8 billion a year and help support nearly 10,000 Arkansans employed by the industry.

During my remarks, I spoke about the importance of trade to the aerospace industry and the U.S. economy. This trade supports 2.4 million American jobs, accounts for 9% of all U.S. exports in goods, and represents the nation’s third largest gross exporter.

While the U.S. aerospace industry is the worldwide leader, our foreign competitors strive to replace us as the trading partner of choice. This is because in addition to the economic benefits, the aerospace and defense industry also drives innovation countrywide and advances foreign policy and national security goals.

The key to maintaining U.S. competitiveness in trade is a level playing field. AIA advocates for policies that improve the domestic industry’s ability to compete, including a fully functional Export-Import Bank, the reduction of internal trade barriers, and a comprehensive plan for security cooperation with allies.

Addressing each of these issues will benefit local economies across the country and provide a positive environment for growth. With the help of aerospace and defense communities in Arkansas and across the country, AIA and its member companies will be able to address critical challenges facing the sector so our industry can continue to grow for many years to come.