If there is a boogey man in the Ohio presidential sweepstakes, it's China. According to Bloomberg, the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have aired nearly 30,000 ads that mention trade with China, many airing in the key swing state of Ohio.
Talk of a Tomato War is simmering in agricultural circles, after the U.S. Commerce Department issued a report Thursday that recommends ending an agreement on how fresh tomatoes grown in Mexico are sold in the United States. The issue could create an expanding trade conflict; Mexican officials have said they would retaliate to defend the tomato growers.
The Obama administration filed a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization this week alleging that China is illegally subsidizing its auto industry.
The US says China provides cheap loans and grants and other incentives to their car industry, and that these favors go to companies who are already successful exporters. That, says US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, is unfair.
The economy is not doing well. Unemployment is high, homes are worth what they were in 2003, and growth is weak.
But one sector is doing great: exports. They've been growing about four times as fast as the overall economy since the beginning of 2010.
This is part of a longer-term trend. Despite the myth that the U.S. doesn't make anything anymore, U.S. exports have actually been contributing a larger and larger share of the U.S. economy since the 1970s.