The op-ed in Sunday’s paper by Antonio Garza offers an amazingly inverted argument for quick passage of three bilateral free-trade agreements. While in the same breath commenting on our current unemployment crisis he goes on to suggest that somehow opening our doors to even more cheap imports will help solve this problem. Of course he couches this in claims that we’ll actually be able to export more but that claim has been debunked for nearly twenty years.
Former presidential candidate Ross Perot once said of the North American Free Trade Agreement, listen for the "giant sucking sound" of American jobs heading south to Mexico should NAFTA be ratified. He’s been proven correct, Economic Policy Institute economist Robert Scott estimates that 682,900 U.S. jobs have been "lost or displaced" because of the agreement and the resulting trade deficit.
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that in the first seven years of the Korean agreement as many as 159,000 American jobs could be lost and the trade deficit could increase by $16.7 billion. While the pacts proposed with Columbia and Panama will of course have smaller effects they will nevertheless have negative consequences for employment in the U.S.
Were we actually competing with other countries on a level playing field meaning that all countries had similar labor and environmental regulations free trade might make sense. Since we won’t also have fair trade multi-national corporations will simply continue to outsource jobs as they seek “shareholder value” leaving more Americans unemployed.