Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Back to Opinion

A New Breed of Trade Pacts

The Republican White House and the Democratic Congress have reached an agreement on a new kind of trade pact. It applies to pending agreements with Columbia, Peru, Panama and South Korea. What is distinctive about these trade agreements is that they go beyond the simple exchange of goods. They oblige the parties to observe certain labor and environmental conditions.

The current move recalls our experience with the North American Free Trade Agreement under President Bill Clinton. It involved only three countries — the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The immediate impact of Nafta was a flood of jobs out of the U.S. into Mexico by companies in search of cheaper labor. Under the agreement, the U.S. could have insisted that Mexico elevate its labor standards. For whatever the reasons, Clinton chose not to do so.

The pending pacts make it imperative that the governments involved see to it that the rights of labor be observed and that environmental conditions are not endangered. To which we say: Two cheers for the Democrats in Congress and the Republicans in the White House for their proposed trade pacts.

Why only “two cheers” and not three cheers?

We are withholding our third cheer until such time as the U.S. applies the principles of the pending agreements to U.S. trade with China and India.

At the time of the American Revolution, the American colonials “fired the shot heard round the world.” If we and our democratically minded allies applied our joint powers to elevate the status of those who labor in China and India, we would indeed be global liberators.

But don’t hold your breath.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.