The Facts Prove: Free Trade Agreements are Good for U.S.

By April 20, 2010Trade

An op-ed in today’s The Hill by Frank Vargo, the National Association of Manufacturers’ vice president for international affairs, “Free trade pacts have been good for U.S.

I was disappointed to read Global Trade Watch Director Lori Wallach’s recent op-ed in The Hill (“Obama’s trade policy opportunity,” March 17, 2010). In the piece, Wallach alleged that NAFTA and similar “failed” agreements caused an $800 billion trade deficit, destroyed 5 million manufacturing jobs, lowered U.S. living standards and benefited a few at the expense of many.

Wallach’s opinion is exactly contrary to what the facts show.

The fact is that U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs) have never been a significant factor in the U.S. trade deficit, and over the past two years FTAs have resulted in a U.S. manufactured goods surplus of nearly $50 billion. That’s right — according to the Census Bureau data for manufactured goods exports in 2008-’09, we sold our trade agreement partners nearly $50 billion more manufactured goods than we bought from them.

The op-ed refutes the arguments that supporters use to pitch the so-called TRADE Act, legislation that would effectively prevent the United States from engaging in any serious trade negotiations in the future. We worry about the United States sitting on the sidelines as other countries negotiate advantageous trade agreements with one another. The TRADE Act would send us back into the locker room to sit on the benches, muttering impotently at the winners back out on the field.

The graph below demonstrates the success FTAs in expanding U.S. exports.

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