The evidence keeps rolling in about the value of having free trade agreements (FTAs) that open up foreign markets to American exports. The Commerce Department data on FTAs that the International Trade Administration just posted shows that we are on track for a fourth straight year of manufactured goods trade surpluses with our FTA partners.
Moreover, based on their data through October, that surplus has already reached a record $40 billion. If that rate continues for November and December, the U.S. manufactured goods trade surplus with FTA partners will be $46 billion in 2011 – double the 2010 surplus of $23.4 billion.
The manufactured goods surplus with NAFTA is running at a $12 billion annual rate, and with CAFTA at a $3 billion annual rate.
The record with FTA partners is in sharp contrast to U.S. manufactured goods trade with countries that do not have FTAs with us. Based on January-October data, it looks like U.S. manufactured goods trade with non-FTA partners will register a deficit of close to $500 billion in 2011.
The facts are clear - we need more FTAs to let our manufactured goods into more foreign markets – and we need them as fast as we can get them.
Frank Vargo is vice president of international economic affairs, National Association of Manufacturers.