Sunday, May 13, 2007

Trade agreement doesn't seem like enough

The Bush Administration and Congress have reached a deal on trade that will include immediate inclusion of labor and environmental provisions in deals with Peru and Panama and eventually will be written into trade agreements with other countries, like South Korea and Columbia.

Congressional Democrats are probably really, really dumb to trust the Bushies to enforce the provisions guaranteeing worker rights and imposing environental standards. Bush's track record in these areas, both at home and abroad, is pretty dismal.

And then: what about China?

The United States embraced China as a trading partner during the Clinton years and has been losing jobs ever since, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

The rise in the U.S. trade deficit with China between 1997 and 2006 has displaced production that could have supported 2,166,000 U.S. jobs. Most of these jobs (1.8 million) have been lost since China entered the WTO (World Trade Organization) in 2001.

In Wisconsin, according to EPI, 38,000 jobs -- 1.4% of the 2001 labor force -- were lost from 2001 to 2006 because of the growing trade deficit with China.

China also engages in extensive suppression of labor rights; it has been estimated that wages in China would be 47% to 85% higher in the absence of labor repression. China has also been accused of massive direct subsidization of export production....

China's entry into the WTO was supposed to bring it into compliance with an enforceable, rules-based regime, which would require that it open its markets to imports from the United States and other nations. The United States also negotiated a series of special safeguard measures designed to limit the disruptive effects of surging Chinese imports on domestic producers. However, the core of the agreement failed to include any protections to maintain or improve labor or environmental standards. As a result, China's entry into the WTO has further tilted the international economic playing field against domestic workers and firms, and in favor of multinational companies (MNCs) from the United States and other countries, and state- and privately-owned exporters in China. This has increased the global "race to the bottom" in wages and environmental quality and caused the closing of thousands of U.S. factories, decimating employment in a wide range of communities, states, and entire regions of the United States.

The happy dance being done by Dems over the new trade agreement is only a media moment: "Look how nice we can play with Bush / Cheney, and we hate them so!"

Meanwhile, we bleed jobs to China and China bleeds its people and the environment. No happy dance here.

1 comment:

geoff said...

True, but I don't know what can be done about it. Try to buy anything "Made in the USA" and you will have a very hard time. I've tried it and it is difficult. Our entire economy is based on cheap goods. We "hate" Wal Mart but somehow Wal Mart seems to keep having record sales. High tech is the "answer" except our immigration and educational policies discourage a lot of really bright minds from coming here or staying here. We can all stand up for the working men and women but, somehow the resolve gets lost when we find out that fair labor results in higher prices. We not only export our labor but we export our environmental problems to other countries so we can proudly say the USA is becoming "greener" by the day. Those factories that previously spewed pollutants and CO2 into the air from America are now doing it from China, Mexico and other places where their version of the EPA is non-existent.

Does anybody out there have any realistic suggestions?