Lori Wallach, of the Public Citizen group, has played a cruel trick-or-treat joke on Wisconsin coated paper workers. And for this reason, it deserves a response as Ms. Wallach is misleading these workers and tricking them into supporting her biased view of trade agreements –- agreements that have allowed more made-in-Wisconsin products to be sold around the world.
In an October 27th report on the website of the Green Bay station, News Talk Radio WTAQ, Ms. Wallach blames trade agreements for layoffs in Wisconsin’s paper mills and claims government researchers say the Korea trade agreement would create more jobs lost and a greater U.S. deficit.
This is simply not so. First, imports of coated paper into the United States are already duty-free –- meaning there is no tax on the product. Thus, there is no advantage with the Korean trade agreement for more Korean coated paper to be imported to the United States. And while Wallach claimed the U.S. Government said the agreement would cost jobs and increase the U.S. trade deficit — the “official” U.S. government International Trade Commission analysis says the Korea agreement will increase U.S. exports more than imports, shrink the trade deficit, and generate over $11 billion in added economic growth for the United States – thus creating most needed jobs.
The paper industry’s problem isn’t trade agreements – it is unfair imports from China. While coated paper imports from Korea are only half as large as five years ago, they have doubled from China because of unfair trade practices. Only last week, the U.S. Government put tariffs as high as 170 percent on dumped and subsidized exports from China. Had Wallach raised her voice against these unfair trade practices instead of misleading American workers about trade agreements maybe the government would have acted faster.
I hope these paper mill workers will not allow themselves to be tricked into supporting someone’s failed biases. They should demand the facts and decide for themselves what is needed to boost U.S. manufacturing. For example, consider NAFTA. It is now Wisconsin’s largest export market, buying over $8 billion of Wisconsin’s production in 2008 – more than twice as much as Wisconsin’s number two market, the European Union.
Korea’s import tariffs on U.S.-made manufactured goods average 8 percent, while U.S. import tariffs on Korean-made manufactured goods average 2 percent – and most U.S. manufactured imports from Korea are already duty-free. I think it is clear who will be the winner from the Korea trade agreement. Too bad Ms. Wallach can’t see it.
Frank Vargo is vice president for international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers.