As Yogi Berra once said, "It's déjà vu all over again." It appears that's true with the next free-trade agreement currently being hammered out behind closed doors between the United States and the Pacific Rim countries. Union leaders and others against free trade agreements of any stripe are up in arms over this "trade-liberalization" proposal that is reminiscent of the uproar we saw over the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA.
I remember well the NAFTA opposition. Everyone knew that people would head to Mexico to manufacture their goods and no one liked that idea. The same cast of characters does not like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) any better. The measure is expected to call for lowering or eliminating most trade barriers between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries.
Union leaders and other critics of these agreements are making the same argument against the TPP free trade agreement that it made against NAFTA: that manufacturers will send their manufacturing to these lower-wage countries, taking jobs and opportunity away from American workers. We all remember Ross Perot's comment about the "great sucking sound" as jobs headed south of the border. As it turned out, it was more like a "sipping" sound as there really wasn't much movement toward putting a large percentage of U.S. manufacturing in Mexico.