Protectionism and isolation would be bad for the Puget Sound region and America, not least in the critical field of commercial airplanes.

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (yes, repeat that three times and see how you feel) is saying that Boeing will move American jobs to China.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner called me to say emphatically this is not true. The claim has also been dismissed by experts.

Trump lie? I am shocked, shocked! Nevertheless a basket of, er, voters might be misled, which would be deplorable.

Conner said, “Trump has made an issue about our involvement with the Chinese assembly center, saying we’ll move all these jobs to China.” But it’s not true. The Chinese center is “our largest opportunity for sales, creating an expanded relationship, but it will also create more jobs here. It’s lopsided on what we get and give — we get more. It’s being portrayed as the opposite.”

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The 737s will continue to be assembled in the Puget Sound region, then flown to China where they will be painted and have the interior installed. The deal, Conner said, actually protects Boeing by limiting intellectual property transfer.

More than 70 percent of Boeing’s commercial jet deliveries are outside the United States. China needs an estimated 6,000 airliners over the next 20 years. In addition to competition from Airbus, Boeing faces the certainty that China will field an indigenous commercial airliner, too.

The finishing center keeps Boeing solidly in the game. Aerospace generates 1.5 million American jobs and is the bedrock of many small companies. For most of them, “the good old days” are now.

Conner is also concerned about the general anti-trade rhetoric of the election. For example, both Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“Some people do get impacted by trade agreements, no question. In general, these create more opportunity. The right controls need to be in place to protect American workers. But these agreements aren’t as bad as being portrayed,” Conner told me.

“We…need to be cognizant how important trade is to this region,” he said. “Boeing for sure, but this region. People need to take time to educate themselves. It sounds good to take it back to a time when life seemed better. But the world will not sit still. We need to make the best agreements possible. But to shut our doors to the rest of the world would be a real problem.”


Today’s Econ Haiku:

EpiPen execs

Get outsized compensation

Sticking it to us