It was during a previous presidential campaign year, (aren’t they all?) when candidate Ross Perot identified the “sucking sound” of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) moving US jobs South of the Border. Of course, he was ridiculed in the media for such a statement, along with his haircut, his big ears, his alleged threats to his daughter, and whatever else they could think of to discredit him.
Unfortunately, he was right. NAFTA has totally destroyed the US textile industry, severely damaged the auto industry, and as we have recently learned, hit us pretty hard right here in Sparta with the loss of Phillips Industries, the single largest employer left in the County.
But now it’s official. The Memphis Business Journal has documented that since its enactment in 1994, NAFTA has been responsible for the loss of 682,900 US jobs, with 16,400 coming from right here in Tennessee. That ranks Tennessee as third in the nation in loss of jobs as a percentage of total employment.
The Clinton administration claimed that NAFTA would lead to trade surpluses with Mexico and the creation of hundreds of new US jobs. Obviously, they were wrong. So what is the usual position of our Federal Government when a program goes sour? Just do more of the same, i.e., FEMA, wind power generation, nation building, subsidized ethanol production, etc., etc. So here we go again.
This time the cutsie little name is KORUS-FTA (Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement). The purpose is to eliminate import-export tariffs between our two nations, and thus encourage more trade activity, primarily automobiles. There is only one problem. With Korean labor rates about a third of that in the US auto industry, and no burdensome backlog of unfounded retirement benefits, we are already at a significant disadvantage. In 2010, the sale of US manufactured autos to South Korea totaled $536 million, while our import of Korean manufactures vehicles totaled $7.41 BILLION! And that’s only in autos. Look at your cell phone. Mine is an LG brand… made in Korea. And there is Daewoo and Samsung, and others, filling the electronics department shelves at Wal-Mart and Sam’s.
The Economic Policy Institute, not known for its conservative views, predicts that KORUS will cost an additional 159,000 American jobs, and even Donald Trump, in one of his non-campaign speeches, admitted that he had recently furnished one of his hotels with over a thousand LG television sets, manufactured in Korea!
Just why we must add South Korea, one of the most economically vibrant nations in all of Southeast Asia, to Afghanistan, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Israel, etc., etc., to our list of nation building projects is an interesting question. If our President is truly interested in job creation . . . US job creation; he could begin by repealing NAFTA, GAT, and all the other so-called “free-trade” agreements, and de-rail this pending KORUS debacle.
But don’t hold your breath. NAFTA, KORUS, et al, are precisely what President Obama has in mind to “spread our wealth” around to the rest of the world.
So how is that working out for ya’ so far? Huh?