By Jessica Lettween
MINNEAPOLIS (Sept. 9, 2011) — Last night, President Obama delivered a strong speech on jobs and the plan he outlined to create them included a number of commendable proposals. However, where he got it wrong was with his support for passage of the three pending free trade agreements between the U.S. and South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
These deals are mechanisms for killing jobs, not creating them. The President’s own International Trade Commission predicts the Korea agreement alone would increase our nation’s already crippling trade deficit. Higher trade deficits means more jobs will be lost due to imports than will be created by exports.
The Korea pact is most troubling because it is the most economically significant trade pact since NAFTA. As a result of the increased trade deficit, the Economic Policy Institute predicts a net loss of 159,000 American jobs within seven years should the Korea deal be enacted. Approximately 57,000 Minnesotans work in seven major industrial sectors, such as electronics and manufacturing, which the ITC study identified as at risk under the Korea deal. Even Minnesota farmers are predicted to take a hit.
We need trade agreements that are written for the benefit of working families and local communities, not just big banks and multinational corporations. Americans of all political affiliations have been calling for fair and balanced trade agreements for years; the Korea, Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements do fit not the desired mold. It would be huge step backward, both economically and politically, for our Members of Congress to support these damaging trade pacts.
Jessica Lettween is the Director of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition, located at 2511 Franklin Avenue East, Minneapolis, MN 55406. Call 651-214-6064, email [email protected] and visit www.fairtrademinnesota.org or on Facebook and Twitter.