FTAs Win Trade Olympics with Exports of Manufactured Goods

By March 1, 2010General, Trade

The results are in, the judges have made their decision, and the results are final.  U.S. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) for the second year in a row have turned in a trade surplus for U.S. manufactured goods.  U.S. manufactured goods exports to NAFTA, CAFTA, and the other FTAs exceeded imports by $21 billion in 2008 and extended their surplus to $26 billion in 2009 –- starkly visible in the graph below.

This two-year surplus of nearly $50 billion is pure gold when viewed against the distressing $1.4 trillion dollar deficit for U.S. overall trade in goods and services during that period.  What a great record for U.S. Free Trade Agreements – the brightest spot in the U.S. trade picture!

This reality stands in sharp contrast to what the trade naysayers have been telling Congress, blaming trade agreements as the reason for the trade deficit.  Well, the score is in, the facts are now known, and the deficit is with the countries that DON’T have trade agreements with the United States.

Hopefully winning the “Trade Olympics” gold medal will catch Congress’ attention so they will focus on reality rather than the mythology that has been handed to them for years – and will take up and pass the three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Korea, and Panama.

Thousands of Americans are out of work today rather than being employed by America’s manufacturers who would have expanded sales, production, and employment opportunities if Congress stopped insisting that we should continue to have to pay high tariffs to sell in those countries.

Frank Vargo is NAM’s vice president, international economic affairs.

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