The big justification for bilateral free trade agreements (FTA) is that we will increase “exports.” Never mind that “net exports” are the issue (the amount the exports exceed imports… in our dreams).
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch has just released a new report showing that the “more exports” justification (in terms of absolute – not net – exports) in support FTA’s was a lie (big surprise). Here is a quote from the summary:
[A]nalysis of the actual outcomes of past U.S. FTAs show that the growth of U.S. exports to countries that are not FTA partners is as much as double the growth of exports to U.S. FTA partners.
The report shows that the calculations made by so-called pro free trade groups (or political leaders) showing good FTA export performance used insupportable methods to make those claims.
So… if you want more export growth, don’t negotiate or approve a trade agreement.
Stated another way, if you favor an FTA, then you are anti-export growth.
I made these agriculture trade graphs last year, but will reprint them here because it reinforces the Public Citizen point… though my graphs show net trade. The first shows our net ag trade with the world, which declined for most of the period, with the exception of the period surrounding 2008 (when commodity price spikes made export value higher, though not necessarily export volume).
The second chart shows our deepening trade deficit with bilateral FTA countries.
The point is the agriculture did not do well, though agriculture is used as a poster child for the need to expand exports.
(p.s. I can’t seem to make these charts clear. Have to talk to the IT guy.)