Texas is poised to see economic growth in 2018, but would face challenges brought by a gap in workforce skills and the possible renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Jeff Moseley, CEO of the Texas Association of Business, told Texas Business Daily.
Question: What do you expect to see this year?
Answer: We feel like 2018 should be good news for every business in Texas. The state is firing on all cylinders, with broad-based growth driven largely by energy and manufacturing.
Texas could be a victim of its own success, with a low unemployment rate and a lack of workers hampering further growth. To address this potential shortfall, we must retrain our domestic workers and reauthorize NAFTA.
Jobs are growing faster than the workforce so TAB is working with the Texas Workforce Commission on an initiative to ensure our current and future workforce are receiving the skills they need to fill this gap.
Q: Who benefits/loses?
A: It’s hard to find any areas of weakness, either across regions or across industries. The state now ranks third in job growth nationwide, a dramatic difference from 2015 when it was 31st as a result of a shrinking energy sector.
Q: How should businesses/consumers approach the year from an economic viewpoint?
A: It is imperative that Texas business leaders work together on initiatives and programs that focus on skills and workforce development. Understanding the renegotiation of NAFTA should also be top of mind for Texas businesses.
Roughly 400,000 Texas jobs, many in agriculture and manufacturing industries, depend on NAFTA. We must continue to be diligent in efforts to promote the tremendous benefits of NAFTA.
Question: Which sectors do you see ripe for growth?
A: The renegotiation of NAFTA would certainly help the technology and agriculture sector to grow.
Q: Which sectors do you think will continue to sink?
A: The immediate concern is NAFTA negotiations. If NAFTA is terminated, we go to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which will make it more expensive for businesses to buy and sell goods and everyone is worse off.
For example, under current WTO tariff rates, rates for goods coming into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico would increase to an average 3.5 percent, while the rates for U.S. exports to Canada would rise to an average 4.2 percent and for goods going to Mexico, they would increase an average 7.5 percent.