U.S. Trade Agreements

Our Trade Agreements Have Betrayed Us.

The primary impetus behind off-shoring good jobs and our trade deficit has been a series of trade agreements beginning in the mid-1970’s, each one heralded as boosting American exports, but each one actually resulting in net imports. These agreements were promoted by transnational corporations touting “free trade.” But that really meant that they were then free to export manufacturing to low-wage countries and to import the cheaper products with low or zero tariffs. And the reason the we don’t punish countries that cheat on the agreements is that the transnationals are happy with the advantages the cheating gives them.

Trade deficits are hardly the result of Chinese currency manipulation that was discussed in the second presidential debate in 2012. Other industrial countries, like Germany, have trade surpluses. They are net exporters.

Two books are recommended that describe the way our trade agreements have robbed us of jobs:

“The Global Class War” by Jeff Faux (2006)The founder and former president of the Economic Policy Institute delves deeply into the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), showing how the key players (Clinton, Salinas, and Chretien) double-crossed their constituencies. Larry Summers, Robert Ruben, and Alan Greenspan led the way.He asserts that we are actually being led by “The Party of Davos,” which refers to the annual meeting of the elite class in Davos, Switzerland.Economist John Maynard Keynes actually advocated for protective barriers protecting a country’s key businesses, that countries keep their foreign trade and investment at moderate levels.Repeal of Glass–Steagall is also covered.
The Betrayal of the American Dream” by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele (2012)Two investigative reporters outline a history of trade agreement – 1974, 1979, 1984, 1988, and 1993 (NAFTA), each with a promise of more American jobs and expanding exports, but all of which resulted in lost jobs and negative trade balances – and downward pressure on domestic wages from the ripple effect of lost manufacturing jobs. Our trading partners were not forced to follow the trade agreement rules – probably due to transnational pressure to avoid rocking the boat.The book includes lots of touching, personal stories of people who lost good-paying jobs with a future to business off-shoring, at: Hallmark, Rubbermaid, Boeing, Caterpiller, Vice-Grip, Apple Computer, and steel for the Oakland-SF Bay Bridge.Personal stories of people who lost good-paying jobs with a future to importing guest workers to replace knowledge workers at Bank of America.

A New Trade Agreement Is In the Works.

In 2011, President Obama signed three additional trade agreements with Korea, Panama, and Colombia. Here is Senator Jeff Merkley’s statement on why he voted “no” on those agreements. An even more compromising trade agreement is now being negotiated in relative secrecy: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It behoves all Americans to learn the provisions of this incipient agreement and to vigorously oppose it.