U.S. trade policies have been catastrophic for America for decades. We need a dramatic reversal that probably won't come with the next administration:
The next U.S. president needs to fundamentally redirect U.S. trade policy to preserve manufacturing jobs and reduce the huge trade deficit -- not just tinker with the North American Free Trade Agreement, critics of U.S. trade deals said on Wednesday.
"We need to change the whole discussion about investment, about subsidies, about enforcement of trade laws," said Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union. "How does any country continue to prosper when it's accumulating an average annual trade deficit of about $700 billion per year?"
But Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, said it was more important in the short term to change the agreement's investment provisions because they encourage U.S. companies to move jobs to Mexico.
Similar reforms are needed in other trade agreements, including the one that set the terms of China's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, she said.
Wallach blamed NAFTA, China's WTO accession and other trade agreements for many of the roughly 3 million manufacturing jobs the United States has lost since 2000.