By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in Barack Obama | Democrats | Economy | Free Trade | Hillary Clinton | NAFTA | Protectionism — Comments (5) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday the United States should not reopen talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement as the two U.S. Democratic presidential hopefuls have proposed.
Harper warned that renewed talks would give Canada the chance to renegotiate the pact so that it is more favorable to his country.
"If any American government chose to make the mistake of reopening that we would have some things we would want to talk about as well," Harper said.
Trade minister David Emerson said Wednesday it would be unwise for the U.S. to renegotiate NAFTA because the it has a good deal when it comes to access to Canada's oil.
Emerson noted that Canada is the largest energy supplier to the U.S.
Read on . . .
[Barack Obama's] campaign claims a million jobs have vanished because of the deal. That sounds devastating, but over the last 14 years, the American economy has added a net total of 25 million jobs--some of them, incidentally, attributable to expanded trade with Mexico. When NAFTA took effect in 1994, the unemployment rate was 6.7 percent. Today it's 4.9 percent.
But maybe all the jobs we lost were good ones and all the new ones are minimum-wage positions sweeping out abandoned factories? Actually, no. According to data compiled by Harvard economist Robert Z. Lawrence, the average blue-collar worker's wages and benefits, adjusted for inflation, have risen by 11 percent under NAFTA. Instead of driving pay scales down, it appears to have pulled them up.
Manufacturing employment has declined, but not because we're producing less: Manufacturing output has not only expanded, but has expanded far faster than it did in the decade before NAFTA. The problem is that as productivity rises, we can make more stuff with fewer people. That's not a bad thing. In fact, it's essentially the definition of economic progress.
We're not the only country facing that phenomenon. China makes everything these days, right? But between 1995 and 2002, it lost 15 million manufacturing jobs.
Behold the Audacity of Hype. And after the hype dies down, what happens to our trade policy? Does it continue to get sacrificed to the need to garner votes?
By the way, this post is dedicated to Byron Dorgan.