By Craig E. Speers
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is an ill-conceived pact that will surely visit destructive forces on the American industrial heartland on a grander scale than we have ever witnessed. Tragically, this wrongheaded policy is consistent with past detrimental trade agreements lobbied for by Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
The recent and ill-fated NAFTA and Korean Trade Agreements are proof that these agreements do great damage to our basic manufacturing sector in Western New York and the nation as a whole. For example, the South Korean Trade Agreement is showing a trend of approximately 13 to 1 against American exports to the Republic of South Korea, obviously causing even larger trade deficits and job losses for the United States, even after the agreement was sold to the public as a sure winner. We have yet to see even a hint of domestic economic benefit in awarding China Most Favored Nation trading status. Indeed, our nation is currently running a $350 billion yearly trade deficit with that communist nation.
However, the all-time negative impact award goes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. It, too, was sold as a huge positive, yet became a huge net negative. Not only were millions of American manufacturing and industrial jobs sacrificed on the altar of “free trade,” but the Mexican agricultural economy was also radically altered.
The end result was that millions of Mexican workers formerly employed in agricultural either became unemployed or underemployed to the point where they sought a better economic outlook by attempting, through no fault of their own, illegal entry into the United States. That sounds like some very dire economic impacts where I am from.
The fallacy and moral corruption of these trade agreements is no more evident that in our own Great Lakes Basin region, upstate New York and New England, where once mighty industrial centers have been struggling, stripped clean of manufacturing, employment and hope. The very fabric of these urban communities, large and small, whether they be Detroit or Salamanca, Gary or Medina, Cleveland or Buffalo, Milwaukee or Lackawanna, have been diminished by an acquiescent Congress and presidents willing to sacrifice our jobs base for the sake of the intellectual intoxicant of “free trade.” A more flawed economic policy has never been inflicted on our nation and its citizens.
It is due time that American workers and America-based businesses stand up for our jobs, and fight against this massive TPP injustice, an injustice that threatens the very existence of a sound American economy and its ability to provide for a good-paying job and earned benefits for every able-bodied citizen. Reject the TPP now.
Craig E. Speers is president of the New York State Public Employees Federation, Retirees, Region 1.