The problem with trade agreements

May 06, 2016


President Obama wrote an op-ed earlier this week in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It was published in the Washington Post.  The paper accepted and published, today, Michael Stumo's letter in response.

In his May 3 op-ed, “America, not China, should call the shots on trade,” President Obama made an eloquent case for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We heard similar arguments in favor of the South Korea trade agreement that passed Congress in 2011. Unfortunately, our trade deficit with South Korea doubled as a result of that deal. This means U.S. businesses and workers lost more domestic market share than we gained in South Korea. We also heard this siren song when China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. It was an attractive but false argument. The result was the worst trade performance between the United States and China in the history of our nation.

The United States has better net trade performance with countries with which we do not have trade agreements. That is because trade agreements, “high standards” or not, incentivize offshoring that exceeds any export gain.

Michael Stumo, Washington

The writer is chief executive 

of the Coalition for a Prosperous America.

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  • If America, not China, had in fact been calling the shots on previous trade deals, then what in fact explains the existing massive $$$B trade deficit with China alone? Let Obama explain his supposed drastic policy reversal regarding the contents of the TPP text by highlighting the portions of the legalese in that 6000 page document that supposedly hard wire a reversal of existing systemic trade imbalances that threaten further financial meltdown.