Friday, June 15, 2018

NAFTA and North Carolina

Patrick Duddy has an op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer about the impact of NAFTA on North Carolina. It just fell flat for me. He argues that NAFTA benefits the state, but he also bends over backward to praise the Trump administration. For example:

In the last quarter century all three economies have evolved in important ways. Hence, the Trump administration’s determination to force improvements on our partners is not unreasonable. The Trump administration’s goal is a better deal for U.S. workers and industry.

Trump is not necessarily wrong when he asserts that much of the world has ridden our coattails to an era of greater prosperity. We would be wrong, however, to ignore the corollary to that assertion: the U.S. has – in the aggregate – become more prosperous as well. The aim of the current negotiations should be to create a better trading regime, one that eliminates distortions without sacrificing benefits.
"Forcing improvements on our partners" means a trade war. It's not clear to me how we can consider that reasonable. And the whole "ridden our coattails" thing is simplistic and implies unreasonably that we are "owed." The United States has benefited massively from the post-World War II economic order. There's no way around that.

The piece seems aimed at the NC congressional delegation but the combined praise of NAFTA and Trump makes it difficult to see precisely what he's advocating.


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