Working Families Welcome Long-Overdue Trade Deficit Study

(Washington, D.C., March 31, 2017) The massive U.S. trade deficit has not been a policy focus since 1988’s Omnibus Foreign Trade and Competitiveness Act made it so when the deficit was a comparatively small $114.56 billion. By 2016, it had more than quadrupled in nominal terms to $500.56 billion. It is imperative that this report tackle the complex causes of the deficit, including, but not limited to, labor rights abuses. This is a much-needed study that fair traders across the political spectrum have been advocating for years.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
“It is long past time that our government prioritize the study of the massive, persistent U.S. trade deficit. Not only is the deficit a drag on job and wage growth for working families, it’s a risk to our future growth and security. The information gathered by this study—including the critical inclusion of the ‘denial of worker rights and labor standards’ as potential contributors to the deficit—could finally give us the tools to begin addressing the very real changes our economy needs to create high quality, family-wage jobs here and abroad. ”

United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard:
“Trade deficits impact economic growth and are the best single measure of the predatory and protectionist policies abused by our trading partners to keep American products out of their markets, while they take full advantage of our marketplace. Trade deficits demonstrate lost opportunity. This year’s deficit has already reduced gross domestic product by almost a full percentage point. For too long, the success of our trade policies has been determined by the number of agreements signed, rather than their impact on workers. We must change that approach so that our trade policies benefit working families.”

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) International President Robert Martinez Jr.:
“A serious and effective response to our growing trade deficit is long overdue. Far too many countries do not play by the rules by ignoring fundamental human rights for workers, manipulating currency and demanding the transfer of production and technology. These actions add to our unacceptable trade deficit which is threatening our industrial base and American jobs.”

Department for Professional Employees (DPE), AFL-CIO President Paul E. Almeida:
“The motion picture, television, theater and music industries are vital sectors of the U.S. economy. They employ millions of U.S. workers, generate revenues for local businesses and communities, and are among the all-too-few U.S. industries that generate substantial trade surpluses in the midst of growing U.S. trade deficits. However, the unanswered theft of copyrighted (intellectual property) films, television shows, theatrical productions and music costs the U.S. entertainment industries billions of dollars in revenue each year. That loss of revenue hits directly at bottom-line profits and those middle-class workers who earn their living in these industries. This study is long overdue and should yield a comprehensive picture of our trade deficit.”

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