Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A New Falsehood from McCain

During the debate, McCain said many, many things that were untrue about the economy and his and Obama's economic proposals. Here's one I hadn't heard before:

Right now, because of previous agreements, some made by President Clinton, the goods and products that we send to Colombia, which is our largest agricultural importer of our products, is -- there's a billion dollars that we -- our businesses have paid so far in order to get our goods in there.
Is Colombia really the largest buyer of our agricultural exports? Not even close.

It's number 12. Motivated more out of random intellectual curiosity than by a desire to ridicule McCain for getting wrong a fact of key importance to American farmers, I present to you the Top 15 U.S. Agricultural Export Destinations for calendar year 2007, measured in terms of value in US$:

Country
World Total 89,907,538,204
1 Canada 14,003,843,443
2 Mexico 12,703,911,353
3 Japan 10,104,053,574
4 European Union 8,770,156,617
5 China 8,313,857,408
6 South Korea 3,517,712,913
7 Taiwan 3,112,112,657
8 Egypt 1,801,450,233
9 Indonesia 1,541,886,706
10 Turkey 1,488,891,146
11 Russian Federation 1,328,541,016
12 Colombia 1,221,724,921
13 Hong Kong 1,167,847,169
14 Philippines 1,112,163,369
15 Thailand 869,590,833

UPDATE: Factcheck.org points out that McCain is wrong, but then the "fact checkers" are themselves way off with the actual figures. Here's what I wrote them:
You write:
McCain was way off when he said that Colombia is "our largest agricultural importer of our products." To be sure, Colombia is an important trade partner. According to statistics from the Department of Agriculture, Colombia imported slightly more than $1.4 million worth of U.S. agricultural products in 2007. But that's not even close to the nearly $1.9 billion worth of agricultural products exported to Canada. And there are dozens of other countries that import more U.S. farm products than Colombia does.
The $1.4 million figure is obviously way to low--that's the value of a few shipments of goods. I think you must have looked at the USDA tables and not noticed that the $1.4 million figure is in 1000s. I can't tell where the $1.9 billion number comes from, but it's roughly monthly exports, not annual exports.

In this post I have a short writeup and link to a simple Excel table from the USDA which shows the top 15 destinations for U.S. ag exports in calendar year 2007:
http://econ4obama.blogspot.com/2008/10/new-falsehood-from-mccain.html

Colombia is #12. We all make mistakes, of course, but one would hope that a fact check site would triple check its figures and not be generating new misinformation.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

My father in law often wanders the house muttering to his wife (who is often not in the room), "Oh, honey. Where's my pants?" It seemed last night as if Mr. McCain had misplaced something, like the facts.

Ben B. said...

What a phony blog! To be expected from Obama supporters....

Columbia is largest importer...in South America...did you listen to the debate and only hear what you wanted to hear? Typical.

Don Pedro said...

Ben,

Thanks for reading McCain's mind and figuring out what he might have been thinking. But it's not what he said, and most people don't have your psychic skills.

What we quote above is what he said.

The full transcript is here:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/10/debate-transcri.html

Nancy Drew said...

Columbia with a "u" is the university Obama graduated from. The country is spelled with an "o".
But, oh, maybe I'm a phony for pointing out that fact....