Don’t Let Trade History Repeat Itself


This week marks the fourth anniversary of the Korea-U.S. (KORUS) trade agreement. But for U.S. workers, there is little to celebrate.

KORUS, hailed as a job-maker for everyday Americans, has actually led to some 90,000 lost jobs in this country. That’s what happens when you run up a $28.3 billion annual trade deficit with a nation instead of breaking even on the deal as promised. 

Michael Stumo, chief executive officer of the bipartisan Coalition for a Prosperous America, says despite efforts by the U.S. Trade Representative to spin this deal as a victory for the U.S., there is no logical way to do so. And that should be a concern for everyone, given KORUS is the blueprint for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“We now know the KORUS agreement was a loser, not a winner,” he said. “The TPP agreement recently signed by the President is based upon the same economic and theoretical template as the Korea deal and will also be a loser.”

The TPP, of course, has become a central issue in the 2016 presidential election, with candidates on both sides of the aisle attacking the deal as nothing more than a handout for the corporate class that will result in tens of thousands of lost U.S. jobs.

Millions of hard-working Americans are finally getting a fuller picture of what unfair trade deals do to this country. Not only does it result in jobs getting shipped overseas or downsized out of existence, they also allow unsafe food and products to flood U.S. store shelves. They lead to higher drug prices and lower environmental standards.

America maybe stuck with KORUS, but it doesn’t need to meet the same fate with the proposed TPP. Congress needs to approve the agreement, but support is dwindling. The Teamsters and worker allies must keep the pressure up on elected officials to make sure they hold firm for the people.