Tag Archives: Trade

Public policy is failing to address the economic disruption from rapidly advancing technology

Back in December I posted about a New report on automation and AI replacing human labor.

The New York Times editorialized in February that No, Robots Aren’t Killing the American Dream. As evidence, the Times cites “the data indicate that today’s fear of robots is outpacing the actual advance of robots. If automation were rapidly accelerating, labor productivity and capital investment would also be surging as fewer workers and more technology did the work. But labor productivity and capital investment have actually decelerated in the 2000s.”

Sarah Bauerle Danzman, assistant professor of international studies at the School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, and Jeff D. Colgan, the Richard Holbrooke associate professor of political science at the Watson Institute of Brown University, respond today at the Washington Post. Robots aren’t killing the American Dream. Neither is trade. This is the problem.

Unfortunately, [the Times‘] argument leads many people to conclude that globalization and liberalized international trade must be what’s hurting U.S. manufacturing. That’s the argument that Alan Tonelson, a campaign adviser to both Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), made in a more recent Times op-ed. According to Tonelson, the U.S. economy needs protectionist policies to revitalize it.

But they’re wrong. Worse, those arguments distract us from implementing the policies that could most help the American worker. Here’s why.

1) Automation is reducing employment in key industries.

The U.S. economy has steadily lost manufacturing jobs since the late 1970s. In 1970, manufacturing employed close to 25 percent of the workforce; but today employs only about 8.5 percent of working Americans. At the same time, the real median household income for people with high school diplomas but not college degrees fell 27.8 percent.

One key piece of evidence is that the United States shed 5 million manufacturing jobs from 2000-2014, even as output over the same period rose. That suggests that automation is the primary reason for the loss. If international trade were the chief culprit, we would also expect U.S. manufacturing output to decline.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is released, the clock is ticking

Stop-TPPThe biggest complaint people had against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is that it was negotiated in secret among sovereign states and corporate trade groups. No one could know what was in the agreement until it was completed. Only after the agreement was completed could the American public have ninety (90) days to review the TPP agreement.

Well now is your chance, boys and girls. The White House released the full text of the TPP agreement on Thursday. Here is a link to the U.S. Trade Representative web site, TPP Full Text of 30 chapters and hundreds of pages of detailed and complex provisions.

This format is unwieldy.  The Washington Post‘s WONKBLOG put together this handy feature. We made President Obama’s big TPP trade deal searchable:

On Thursday morning, after months of questions about the contents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal negotiated and championed by President Obama, his administration released the agreement in its complex entirety.

The problem, though, is that it was released as a series of posts on Medium — and, worse, a collection of PDFs — making it hard to search for topics across the entire document.

Allow us.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is reached after long delay

Stop-TPPIn somewhat of a surprise, after earlier failures to reach an agreement, the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement achieved a preliminary agreement this morning.

So maybe now the public will finally get to learn exactly what is in this “secret” agreement before Congress casts an up or down vote on it early next year.

The congressional debate over TPP is going to add even more turmoil to an already dysfunctional Congress considering a House leadership election, and GOP government shutdown threats over the Federal debt ceiling, Treasury’s Lew Says Congress Must Raise Debt Limit by November 5, and the long-term budget due on December 11.

The New York Times reports, U.S. and Pacific Nations Reach Major Regional Trade Accord:

The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history, a potentially precedent-setting model for global commerce and worker standards that would tie together 40 percent of the world’s economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership still faces months of debate in Congress and will inject a new flash point into both parties’ presidential contests.

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Talks for Trans-Pacific trade deal deadlock

Stop-TPPThis is quite unexpected news given the rush in the U.S. Congress earlier this summer for fast track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Trade negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific nations failed to reach a deal on Friday, with talks on the largest regional trade agreement deadlocking over protections for drug companies and access to agriculture markets on both sides of the Pacific. The New York Times reports, In Setback for Obama, Pacific Trade Talks Fail:

Trade ministers, in a joint statement, said late Friday they had made “significant progress” and will return to their home countries to obtain high-level signoffs for a small number of final sticking points on the agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with bilateral talks reconvening soon.

“There are an enormous number of issues that one works through at these talks, narrowing differences, finding landing zones,” said Michael B. Froman, the United States trade representative. “I am very impressed with the work that has been done. I am gratified by the progress that has been made.”

Still, the breakdown is a setback for the Obama administration, which had promoted the talks here as the final round ahead of an accord that would bind 40 percent of the world’s economy under a new set of rules for commerce.

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U.S. to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba

President Obama today announced that the U.S. is re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. Statement by the President on the Re-Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with Cuba:

us-cuba_relations_300x225_1More than 54 years ago, at the height of the Cold War, the United States closed its embassy in Havana.  Today, I can announce that the United States has agreed to formally re-establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba, and re-open embassies in our respective countries.  This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people, and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas.

When the United States shuttered our embassy in 1961, I don’t think anyone expected that it would be more than half a century before it re-opened.  After all, our nations are separated by only 90 miles, and there are deep bonds of family and friendship between our people.  But there have been very real, profound differences between our governments, and sometimes we allow ourselves to be trapped by a certain way of doing things.

For the United States, that meant clinging to a policy that was not working.  Instead of supporting democracy and opportunity for the Cuban people, our efforts to isolate Cuba despite good intentions increasingly had the opposite effect -– cementing the status quo and isolating the United States from our neighbors in this hemisphere.  The progress that we mark today is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past. When something isn’t working, we can -– and will –- change.

Last December, I announced that the United States and Cuba had decided to take steps to normalize our relationship.  As part of that effort, President Raul Castro and I directed our teams to negotiate the re-establishment of embassies.  Since then, our State Department has worked hard with their Cuban counterparts to achieve that goal.  And later this summer, Secretary Kerry will travel to Havana formally to proudly raise the American flag over our embassy once more.

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Senate sends TPA fast-track bill to President, concluding votes on TAA bill

It’s all over but the shouting, and the recriminations to come later. The corporate Plutocrats have won. The Hill reports, Senate approves fast-track, sending trade bill to White House:

CorporateFlagThe Senate voted 60-38 Wednesday to approve fast-track authority, securing a big second-term legislative win for President Obama after a months-long struggle. Senate Vote No. 219 (60-38).

Passage of the bill is also a big victory for GOP leaders in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The Republican leaders worked closely with an administration they have more frequently opposed to nudge the trade bill over the goal line.

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The Senate is scheduled to vote later Wednesday to end debate on and pass a trailer bill that includes trade preferences for African nations and a workers assistance program known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

UPDATE: Senate Vote No. 220 (76-22). This cloture vote sets up the final vote for passage of TAA later today.

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