(Daniel Griswold – Los Angeles Times)
Foreign trade took a beating at both major party conventions, with speakers blaming free-trade agreements for all but wiping out U.S. manufacturing and eliminating millions of middle-class jobs. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have promised to renegotiate or abandon trade agreements with key U.S. trading partners such as Mexico and Canada. That would be a colossal mistake.
The number of manufacturing jobs in the United States has indeed been in a long decline since the late 1970s, but that disguises the true story of American manufacturing. Nostalgia for a bygone era blinds politicians and voters alike to the reality of a revitalized sector of the American economy that is thriving in a global market.
American factories and American workers are making a greater volume of stuff than ever — high-tech, high-value products that are competitive in markets around the world. In the last 20 years, which include enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, real, inflation-adjusted U.S. manufacturing output has increased by almost 40%. Annual value added by U.S. factories has reached a record $2.4 trillion. Click here to read more.