Thursday, January 17, 2008

CAFTA: The Jobs Killer Canard

It’s official. With the trade data just released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. trade balance in manufactured goods with CAFTA (Central American and Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement), has registered a $2 billion trade surplus. This is a sharp reversal from the pre-CAFTA situation, where in the years before the passage of the CAFTA agreement we averaged an annual manufactured goods trade deficit of about -$1.5 billion.

This agreement is the one that isolationist organizations have called “the job killer.” Just before the Congressional vote on CAFTA, one of these groups pronounced, “Like NAFTA, CAFTA is just another outsourcing agreement that will devastate U.S. manufacturing…CAFTA is a continuation of the failed NAFTA policy that drives our rising trade deficit and mounting job losses.”

This was always a silly statement, because the CAFTA countries already had one-way free trade into the U.S. market. The big deal in CAFTA was that in exchange for making their access to the U.S. market permanent, they would eliminate their trade barriers to Made-in-the-USA products. How we could lose in such a deal is beyond me.

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