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International Trade Agreements Need to be Balanced as Well as Free


(Chuck Muth) – Donald Trump is hammering Barack Obama on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

Hillary Clinton was pummeled over her role in drafting TPP by Bernie Sanders.

And House Speaker Paul Ryan is being slammed for his support of the agreement by a Republican newcomer who’s challenging him in Wisconsin’s August primary.

Who would have thought an international trade deal would be such a big deal?

But serious recurring problems with the hotly-debated NAFTA agreement with Mexico way back in the day when Hillary was First Lady have caused even hard-core free marketers to take a more cautious, skeptical look at an agreement weighing in at 5,544 pages and over 2 million words.

Call them “Free & Balanced Marketers.”  One of them is Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government.

In a letter to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump earlier this month, Manning pointed out that a Vietnam textile worker makes an average of $100 a month to make shoes for Nike that sell for $100-plus here in America.  How is that free and balanced?

Manning also brought up another sore trade subject…

“Another egregious example of American policy being out of whack is the area of agricultural subsidies and trade. A specific example is the much maligned U.S. sugar policy, which is in place to offset massive sugar subsidization by producers like Brazil, Thailand and India. These countries’ subsidies and trade-distorting policies have wrecked the world sugar market and could drive the U.S. industry out of business.”

Manning went on to note that when Europe Union did away with its sugar program in 2006, “Foreign sugar drove much of its sugar industry out of business, costing thousands of Europeans their jobs.”

“Then,” Manning continued, “when imports predictably slowed, massive shortages materialized, burning consumers with high prices. Only recently has the European market started to stabilize, but not before the EU began subsidizing again to help support domestic producers – a move that ironically makes the global market less free and fair.”

It’s not a free market when one side plays by the rules and the other doesn’t.  That’s why free trade agreements such as TPP and NAFTA need to be balanced, as well.