Thursday, August 05, 2010

‘Doubling exports’ would be a big loser as a U.S. jobs policy

The Obama administration’s commitment to doubling U.S. exports in five years is woefully inadequate: it aims to create 2,000,000 American jobs when 22,000,000 are needed. That’s the criticism of by a former CEO, Leo Hindery, writing a guest editorial in the current issue of Manufacturing & Technology News.

A major problem with this export-reliant pledge, says Hindrey, is President Obama’s plan to ratify three free trade agreements negotiated by President Bush – with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. All “are very poorly negotiated and will cause even more American jobs to be lost overseas.”

He singles out the South Korea FTA as “simply awful,” so much so that, if approved without major changes, “the Obama administration will be giving a major unwarranted victory to America’s multinational corporations and Korean workers at the expense of America’s workers.”

Korean negotiators bested the United States in 2007 and later negotiations, according to Hindery, “especially in automobiles, where the FTA would lock in Hyundai Motor Corp.’s dominance of the South Korean market while locking out American manufactured vehicles, and in beef, where the U.S. would largely be excluded from exporting all but young carcasses.”

In Hindery’s view, President Obama must undertake a series of initiatives in addition to radically amending the three pending FTAs:

-- Decide that job creation is the number-one object of his administration’s economic policy, with domestic manufacturing as the top priority.

-- Line up his entire administration behind that policy. At present, some top officials voice positions that are “complete BS.”

-- Especially level the trade playing field between U.S. and China.

-- Emphasize the primary (not secondary) role of “big business” in creating the bulk of the millions of new jobs, and stop fixating on the ability of small business to do so.

Hindery is the former CEO of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) and chairs the U.S. Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative of the New America Foundation.
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