Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) says the World Trade Organization (WTO) should be abolished in the wake of the Chinese coronavirus. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Hawley credits the WTO with helping to empower “China’s rise” while weakening American workers:
But in the early 1990s, with America’s principal adversary gone, Western policymakers were in a messianic frame of mind. President George H.W. Bush promised a “new world order” of “open borders, open trade … and open minds,” a new international system based on liberal values to bring peace to the world. He and other internationalists wanted a new economic system to match. [Emphasis added]
Take the World Trade Organization. Its mandate was to promote free trade, but the organization instead allowed some nations to maintain trade barriers and protectionist workarounds, like China, while preventing others from defending themselves, like the United States. Foreign agriculture won concession after concession, while American farmers struggled to get fair access to markets.Meanwhile, the W.T.O. required American workers to compete against Chinese forced labor but did next to nothing to stop Chinese theft of American intellectual property and products. [Emphasis addd]
Under the W.T.O.’s auspices, capital and goods moved across borders easier than before, no doubt, but so did jobs. And too many jobs left America’s borders for elsewhere. As factories closed, workers suffered, from small towns to the urban core. Inflation-adjusted, working wages stagnated and upward mobility flatlined. [Emphasis added]
Enough is enough. The W.T.O. should be abolished, and along with it, the new model global economy. The quest to turn the world into a liberal order of democracies was always misguided. It always depended on unsustainable American sacrifice and force of arms. And its companion economic order has, in a similar vein, succeeded mostly in weakening American workers and industry. [Emphasis added]
The U.S., Hawley writes, ought to “seek new arrangements and new rules” to restore the nation’s economic sovereignty — which includes returning to the economic system before the WTO’s creation, where reciprocal trade “protected our national interests and the nation’s workers.” Hawley writes:
That means returning production to this country, securing our critical supply chains and encouraging domestic innovation and manufacturing. It means striking trade deals that are truly mutual and truly beneficial for America and walking away when they are not. It means building a new network of trusted friends and partners to resist Chinese economic imperialism.
Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was enacted and China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO), nearly five million American manufacturing jobs have been eliminated from the American economy — 3.4 million of which are due to U.S. free trade with China. The mass elimination of working- and middle-class jobs and depressed U.S. wages due to NAFTA and China’s entering the WTO have coincided with a more than 600 percent increase in trade deficits.
Of the 3.4 million American jobs lost due to free trade with China, about 2.6 million — or about three-fourths — were lost in the crippled manufacturing industry. U.S. trade deficits with China have eliminated American jobs in all 50 states.
» Source » By John Binder