Politicians and free trade

Political demagoguery threatens pending free trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia, Peru and Panama, as The Detroit News notes:

Democrats in Congress, along with some Republicans, are promoting protectionism again, ramping up efforts to kill four proposed free trade agreements because they say open markets abroad hurt workers here.

But that doesn’t play out in logic or in practice when you look at the facts.

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Additionally, more than half of all farm exports will become duty-free immediately, including corn and soybeans. And pharmaceuticals and medical devices will get fairer treatment under the agreement. Despite the rhetoric against such opportunities, those are good things for Michigan.

Politics, however, stands in the way. It appears congressional Democrats carrying the water of the AFL-CIO labor group are fighting these expanded opportunities.

They balked at the lack of labor and environmental provisions in the original South Korea free trade agreement and said they wouldn’t budge until those issues were addressed. South Korea complied, but that didn’t soften the opposition.

Read it all at the above link. Also, read Helene Cooper in The New York Times:

Writ large, that argument falls back on a principle that has fueled the free trade argument for more than a century: nations flourish by focusing on their comparative advantage — the things that they do best — and trading with other countries for the things that those countries are more efficient at producing.

But this argument has zero resonance when presidential candidates are facing an audience of union members in Chicago who are worried that their jobs are being outsourced to India. So, with the exception of Representative Dennis Kucinich, who announced Tuesday night, to ringing applause, that during his first week in office as president he would withdraw from Nafta and the World Trade Organization, the rest of the Democrats at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. forum were more cautious. When asked whether, for all of their Nafta-bashing, they would pull the United States out of the trade pact, they quickly veered to vague talk about stronger worker protections.

The rest is at the preceding link. Even most of the Democratic candidates realize they are merely mouthing political pablum, repeating by rote the noxious nostrums favored by Big Labor – and threatening actions which would disrupt our economy and that of the entire world.

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