The increasing U.S. manufacturing trade deficit has sparked sharp debate about U.S. trade policy. To put the numbers in some perspective, Plastics News sat down with representatives of two groups that push very different solutions.
The U.S. Business and Industry Council advocates major changes, such as scrapping the World Trade Organization unless the United States is given more influence. BIC also advocates trade sanctions if China doesn't revalue its currency, and negotiating trade deals that “strengthen the domestic manufacturing base.”
BIC research fellow Alan Tonelson, author of The Race to the Bottom: Why a Global Worker Surplus and Uncontrolled Free Trade Are Sinking American Living Standards, has testified before Congress and written pieces for major newspapers. Read Tonelson's perspective.
The National Association of Manufacturers, on the other hand, advocates working within WTO. It wants to reach trade deals to lower other countries' barriers to U.S. goods, and recently petitioned the U.S. government to file a WTO case against China for alleged intellectual property violations. NAM argues that 80 percent of the U.S. trade deficit comes from countries with which it has no trade agreements, while those countries account for only two-thirds of U.S. trade.
Frank Vargo, NAM vice president of international economic affairs, had a three-decade career with the Department of Commerce, serving at various times as deputy assistant secretary for Europe, Asia, WTO affairs and trade compliance. He received the President's Distinguished Executive Award, the highest award given to a career government employee. Read Vargo's perspective.