NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Congress should not grant President Obama authority to conclude another free-trade agreement in Asia, because it would lower American wages and exacerbate income inequality.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership would eliminate tariffs and lower other regulatory barriers to trade and investment among the United States, South Korea, Japan and nine other Pacific Rim nations. If the pact is successful, China, India and several other nations could seek membership. Hence, the TPP has the potential to redefine the rules for international commerce in the most rapidly growing region of the international economy, but President Obama has given ordinary workers good reason to believe he is not looking out for them.
Free-trade deals can permit Americans to earn higher wages by enabling an increase in exports of goods and services that require highly skilled workers and research development in fields such as pharmaceuticals and software. Even workers displaced by imports could find better jobs if exports grew as much as imports and instigated faster growth with more emphasis on spending for skills-focused education.
In March 2012, President Obama inaugurated a free-trade pact with South Korea, and in many ways, it provides a template for what we may expect from a broader TPP.
Imports from South Korea are up 3.6 billion, U.S. exports are down marginally, and the U.S. trade deficit with the Asian nation has swelled to $5 billion. That free-trade deal alone has killed about 25,000 American jobs, mostly in high-paying manufacturing activities, and added to downward pressures on wages and worsened income inequality.