Thirty-five years ago, as a graduate student working on a master’s degree in international marketing, I was trying to understand the principles that guided the expectation of open markets after World War II. It was not free trade nor negotiated trade but cooperative trade.
Starting after WWII, the globalization of markets accelerated rapidly with the United State playing a dominant role. The US helped re-build the European economy and encouraged Japan and China to adopt modern manufacturing techniques and develop export programs.
At the time, the phrase most used was that “a rising tide of trade lifted all boats.” Many would learn that even though cooperative trade strengthened the world economy as a whole, not all boats were lifted equally, some were leaking; much of the positive gains from trade would flow to CEOs in plush offices, with much less going to workers on the line.
Even before my time in graduate school, manufacturing jobs had begun to disappear throughout the U.S., with particular damage to the swath of midwest and northeast states known as the “Rust Belt.” Jobs were disappearing 14 years before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and 22 years before China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).
So why are Democratic and Republican politicians now lamenting that current trade imbalances, particularly with China, are causing the ongoing disappearance of jobs from the American economy?
Join me as we discuss and analyze the current polarizing combination of trade and politics at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 8) in the Great Room of the Arizona Senior Academy. The program is part of the Arizona Senior Academy’s presentation of the ongoing Great Decisions series, sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association.
Written by Joe Helgert, Academy Village Volunteer