There will always be an England, the poets tell us, and maybe that ought to be our economic guidance now.
In today’s world, the British Isles are not a foggy distance, but a here-and-now trade partner, one of the top 10 destinations for Louisiana goods and services. British companies are major investors in the state, including in the giant petrochemical complex along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
The United Kingdom also is a substantial source of tourists. New Orleans is the second-most popular entry point for English visitors to the United States, behind only New York City. New Orleans was the entry point for 19.6 percent of English visitors to the United States, according to a 2013 study the University of New Orleans did for the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. That’s why we were struck by the understatement about the stunning vote on the part of our friends in Britain to depart the European Union. “It’s very difficult to say what will happen,” said Dominik Knoll, CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans.
Hard to say is right.
Certainly, the process of dis-integration is going to be a tough one. The economic spillover effects are reflected in the market balances of Americans and other investors around the world, because there is concern that business will be harmed — once again — by politics.
The Brexit process will be long, so the markets should have a lot of time to settle down and price the implications into the values of stocks.
David Dismukes, director of the LSU Center for Energy Studies, said there will be no big direct effects on Louisiana. “But this is going to have an indirect impact, and we’ll just have to see how this plays out and how the markets react to this over the next couple of weeks,” he said.
That we shall, but it also is important that Louisiana continue to be focused on the economic importance of our ties with countries abroad. We urge the Louisiana delegation in Congress to watch the process across the pond and be ready to work in a bipartisan manner with President Barack Obama to protect trade flows and tourist access.
Despite the turmoil in the State Capitol over the budget, new Gov. John Bel Edwards has indicated he favors new investments in port facilities. Louisiana is one of the world’s great trading centers, in large part because of the Mississippi River, and we want to preserve and enhance that status.
This is not the end of the globalization of trade and travel. The realities of our economies indicate, as another poet said, that we are a part of the continent, a piece of the main. For now, we’re banking on those realities to overcome this self-inflicted political wound.