Hate NAFTA? Fair enough. But not all trade deals are the same, and there’s a lot to like about agreements negotiated since 2000, a new study released today by a center-left think tank argues as Congress nears action on key trade legislation.
“If we judge the economic impact of trade deals and their benefits to the middle class on improving the balance of trade on goods, then our 21st century trade deals have delivered on that promise,” Third Way analysts Jim Kessler and Gabe Horowitz said in the report, titled “Are Modern Trade Deals Working?”
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“They have increased exports at a far greater rate than imports, improved the balance of goods trade for 13 of 17 countries, turned previous goods deficits into surpluses, and have added a net improvement of $30.2 billion annually in our trade balance on goods alone,” they wrote.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in another sign of fast-approaching action in Congress on “trade promotion authority” to help President Barack Obama clinch a number of big trade deals, released its own report, “The Open Door of Trade,” touting the benefits of previous pacts, including the much-maligned North American Free Trade Agreement.
“These agreements have succeeded spectacularly in facilitating cross-border trade, boosting economic growth, raising productivity and improving conditions for the creation of good jobs,” the business group boasts. “Understanding this success is more important than ever as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement come into sharper focus.”
Both assessments contrast with the far more skeptical view of groups like Public Citizen and the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute which blame trade agreements for millions of lost manufacturing jobs. Public Citizen in particular accuses trade proponents of failing to subtract “re-exports” from trade data to overstate the benefits of the agreements.
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