A bad time to sideline trade talks

Posted by mmcmullan on 12/04/2013

Everyone’s favorite uncle, Vice President Joe Biden, is on an official swing through Asia. A few days ago he visited Japan, and now he’s in Beijing, meeting with Chinese government officials.

This would have been a good opportunity to talk about trade, but growing tensions between the countries, regarding the skies above the East China Sea, have decidedly shifted the topic of conversation.

That’s a bummer; today would have been a good day to do it, in light of the monthly Commerce Department report that shows the U.S. trade deficits with China and Japan are more of the same … and more of the same is bad.

Unfortunately, such trade deficits could grow even larger unless the Obama Administration insists on a rule barring currency manipulation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks. Sure doesn’t look like one’s coming though, and we might end up with another trade deal that does more harm than good. Writes David Cay Johnston in an opinion for Al Jazeera America:

The new pacts are being negotiated by the same narrow group of multinational corporate interests that in two decades of badly negotiated trade deals lost more than 5 million American jobs, half them to China.

Last year the U.S.’s total trade deficit with just five countries with whom we have “pro-trade” pacts — Canada, China, Japan, Mexico and South Korea — exceeded half a trillion dollars. That amounts to 3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product transferred out of the United States to these trading partners — a loss of wealth facilitated by the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, our 1999 bilateral trade agreement with China and the 2012 South Korea Free Trade Agreement.

How much have we lost in uneven trade to China alone? We’ve said it before quite a bit, but here’s Johnston again:

Clinton sold Americans on liberalized trade with China, saying of the deficit in 1999 that “over time, clearly it will shrink with this agreement.” On the basis of the first nine months of this year, the 2013 deficit is likely to be about $316 billion, roughly the same as in 2012 but more than triple the inflation-adjusted deficit in 1999.

Read the whole opinion (it’s a good one) right here.

Related recent Blogs

@KeepitMadeinUSA on Twitter

  • The U.S. is competing without a manufacturing strategy, and the trade numbers show we’re getting our butts kicked. http://t.co/mtxfMmXMkq 1 hour 1 min ago
  • So much for that "rising star" thing. http://t.co/mtxfMmXMkq 1 hour 46 min ago
  • What made @papergirlmacy cry while working on the book Factory Man? @NewsHour has the answer: http://t.co/R56dMJNgeF 2 hours 42 min ago
  • Love this! College's new mobile manufacturing training lab provides on-demand training in advanced manufacturing: http://t.co/hGsSIwqgKa 3 hours 47 min ago
  • "We were going to compete, and remain an American manufacturer, and from that time on, we never looked back." http://t.co/3PuYpsFqT9 4 hours 32 min ago
  • More buzz for Factory Man, this time from @NewsHour. "It’s the largest employer in town. But it wasn’t & isn’t easy." http://t.co/3PuYpsFqT9 5 hours 24 min ago
  • @RossiMachServ How wonderful! We'd love that. 5 hours 26 min ago
  • The U.S. might be a "rising star" in manufacturing, but there's still a lot of work left: http://t.co/b6c8JbKyEX 22 hours 38 min ago
  • If the United States wants to maintain its "rising star" manufacturing status, it must do a few key things: http://t.co/yVBTFyywYF 1 day 1 hour ago
  • That's right: the U.S. is a "rising star" in manufacturing. But there's more to do to increase our competitiveness: http://t.co/yVBTFyywYF 1 day 3 hours ago