Monday, February 2, 2015

We've had 20 years of broken promises from trade agreements. Let's not have any more.

Pretty soon the world will learn how badly the U.S. government broke its promises about the trade deal with South Korea.

There isn't any way the treaty known as KORUS lived up to its advance billing. We were promised it would increase U.S. exports from $10 billion to $11 billion.

After two years, U.S. exports to South Korea fell by $3.1 billion.

We were told it would support 70,000 American jobs from increased goods exports alone.

After two years, it cost 60,000 U.S. jobs, most of them good-paying jobs in manufacturing.

It is now extremely unlikely the United States recovered from those losses and met the promises made three years ago by KORUS supporters.

Same with NAFTA.

NAFTA was supposed to create 170,000 new jobs.

After nearly 20 years, NAFTA cost 1 million jobs.

Caterpillar, Inc. lobbied for NAFTA claiming it would stop the company from outsourcing jobs. By 2008, Caterpillar laid off 338 workers in Illinois and moved their jobs to Mexico, while 105 workers lost their jobs at Caterpillar's Georgia plant because of imports from Mexico.

How about Colombia? Remember how a trade deal with Colombia was going to end the violence that made it the worst country in the world to be a trade unionist?

That didn't happen either. The violence in Colombia got worse. There were four more union leaders murdered in 2013 than in 2012.

Remember CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement? It was supposed to raise the standard of living for Central Americans.

It didn't.

In El Salvador, unemployment increased by 71 percent. Unescorted children -- CAFTA kids --  created a crisis at the U.S. border as they tried to escape the violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Now we're hearing more promises about new trade deals: TPP, TTIP, TISA. The Economic Policy Institute issues a blunt warning:
Presidents of both parties from Clinton through Obama have sold free trade agreements on the basis of export growth. But free trade agreements impact a lot more than exports—they increase imports and encourage outsourcing, which means fewer American jobs. 
We should stop negotiating new free trade agreements, and work to fix the ones we have. The United States needs to base its projections on the real impact of free trade agreements—including effects on exports and imports, outsourcing, wages, and employment.