Flawed Free-Trade Deals Will Cost American Jobs

Linda Chavez-Thompson, San Antonio Express The only thing Texas needs more than rain is jobs. But instead of focusing on job creation, Congress is poised to consider three NAFTA–style trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia that will kill more Texas jobs. We were promised Texas would be a NAFTA winner, but the Economic Policy Institute reported the United States has lost more than 682,000 jobs to NAFTA. About 55,600 jobs were lost in Texas. Additionally, the U.S. trade surplus with Mexico became a $97.2 billion deficit. Now, the same multi-national corporations that have moved so many jobs offshore want Congress to stick Americans with three more job-killing trade deals. EPI predicts the Korea trade deal would kill 159,000 jobs in its first seven years. Even the official U.S. government studies show that this deal would increase our trade deficit. The hardest hit sectors would include Texas industries like motor vehicles, transportation equipment, electronics, metals, textiles and apparel. These sectors provide more than 233,500 jobs to Texans. More than 12,000 of these jobs are in the San Antonio metro area. The Korea trade agreement jeopardizes jobs by allowing certain goods with up to 65 percent foreign content to count as “made in America” and get reduced tariffs. This could lead American employers to send more jobs to China and Mexico. This may be great for multinational corporations, but not for American workers. The Colombia deal could cost another 55,000 U.S. jobs. An even bigger issue than the job loss issue is the fact that Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist. More unionists are killed there annually than in the rest of the world combined. Assassinations have increased since this deal was signed, jumping from 37 unionists in 2007 to 51 in 2010. Already, 17 have been killed this year. At least 2,860 unionists have been killed since 1986 and about 95 percent of cases are unsolved. A recently announced “Action Plan” to improve the situation for Colombia's workers isn't working. Those who have suppressed workers' voices with violence continue their campaign of terror. Finally, there's the deal with Panama, where super-wealthy individuals and corporations have dodged paying billons in taxes owed to the U.S. for years. Panama, too, has promised to clean up its act, but only time will tell if Panama remains a haven for would-be tax evaders and money launderers. If that were not enough, all three trade deals limit regulation of risky financial products and services and are celebrated by the Wall Street firms that wrecked our economy. And, the deals empower foreign corporations to sue our government — in private tribunals — over U. S. policies that might interfere with their profits. Similar terms under NAFTA have led to an attack on state and federal laws dealing with the environment, zoning, forestry, mining and public health. Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of Americans oppose NAFTA-style trade deals. Now, it is up to us to stop more NAFTA-style damage by asking each of our congressional representatives this question: Whose side are you on? If elected officials really stand with working families, they will oppose these three flawed trade deals. Read original post here.