What can we do to close the alarming basketware trade gap?

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I’ve been spending some time perusing the Census Bureau’s foreign trade statistics. You can learn some remarkable things there. Such as that the U.S. is running dizzying surpluses in spacecraft ($150 million in exports to just about nothing in imports in the first three months of this year) and hides and skins ($426 million to $13 million), but a major deficit in coffee ($2 million to $948 million).

For some reason the category I’ve fixated on, though, is “basketware, etc.” This turns out to be a surprisingly big export business–much bigger than spacecraft. But those exports just can’t keep up with the imports. There are some encouraging signs in the past few months, but we’re still running a major basketware deficit. This is unsustainable, people. American prosperity is at stake!

In hopes of getting myself invited to give the keynote address at the yet-to-be-organized Basketware Competitiveness Summit (to be held, of course, in Newark, Ohio), I have charted the past couple years of inflows and outflows:

Graphic by Feilding Cage/ Time.com

What does John McCain have to say about this? What does Barack Obama have to say? (I’m assuming Hillary Clinton already has a five-point basketware-solutions plan, but the media have failed to pay it any heed.)