Donald Trump: When was the last time the U.S. won on a trade agreement?

In his speech announcing his presidential run, Donald Trump posed a question that resonates with the American people. Trump said:

Our country is in serious trouble. We don't have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don't have them. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let's say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time. All the time.

President Reagan was the last U.S. president who won a war. Not only did he win the Cold War, but he also beat Cuba in Grenada. Reagan may also be the last President who won in a trade deal.

In 1981, Reagan got Japan to “voluntarily” restrain its automobile exports to the United States. As a result, Japanese automobile companies built automobile plants in the U.S. that continue to employ American workers and continue buy auto parts from American producers. The American economy has benefited hugely.

Our trade deals since then, like our wars, have all been losers:

  • Clinton negotiated NAFTA with Mexico. In 2014 our trade deficit with Mexico reached $50 billion, roughly 500,000 jobs lost.
  • Clinton gave China permanent most-favored nation status. In 2014, our trade deficit with China reached $315 billion, roughly 3,150,000 jobs lost.
  • Obama negotiated a “free trade” agreement with South Korea. In 2014 our trade deficit with South Korea reached $14 billion, roughly 140,000 jobs lost.

Although some individual free trade agreements may have benefitted the United States, the average free trade agreement has been a disaster. In 2014, the United States ran a deficit in goods of $61.7 billion with our Free Trade Agreement partners. On average our trade deficit in goods with each country went up from $0.8 billion when we signed the deal to more than $3 billion in 2014.

If President Obama and the Republican Congressional leadership have their way, the Trans Pacific Partnership with 11 other countries will be the worst loss yet. Phyllis Schlafly (No Wonder Obama Won’t Let Us Read TPP) summed it up:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would turn over to globalists the power to issue regulations about U.S. trade, immigration, the environment, labor and commerce. It’s called a “living agreement,” which means the globalists can amend and change the text of the so-called agreement after it has gone into effect.

And that’s not the worst part. President Obama and the Republican leadership buckled to Japan’s demand that the Trans Pacific Partnership permit currency manipulation. As a result, it could cost us millions of jobs if it passes.

Fortunately, the Trans Pacific Partnership is losing momentum. On Thursday (June 18), The House voted for the second time to Fast Track it. This time 16 Republicans joined the 34 Republicans who had opposed it the first time. The Obamatrade bill now goes back to the Senate for a second vote.

Howard Richman with his father and son co-authored the 2014 book Balanced Trade: Ending the Unbearable Costs of America’s Trade Deficits, published by Lexington Books and the 2008 book Trading Away Our Future, published by Ideal Taxes Association.

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