Trade with China has cost the U.S. millions of jobs, a U.S. think tank report suggests.
Between 2001 and 2015, around 3.4 million U.S. jobs, three-fourths of which were in the manufacturing sector, were lost as a result of the trade deficit with China, a report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute shows. From the time China joined the World Trade Organization to 2015, the U.S. trade deficit expanded from $83 billion to $367.2 billion.
Jobs have been lost in all 50 states, Robert Scott, the senior economist and director of trade and manufacturing policy research at EPI, revealed in his report.
Rising American dependence on Chinese products coupled with unfair Chinese trading practices have hollowed out the manufacturing sector, the EPI report explains.
Scott argues that China’s devaluation of its currency, the subsidization of its manufacturing exports, the erection of trade barriers, and illegal overseas dumping have negatively impacted U.S. industries. China is accused of building up its economy at the expense of American workers.
U.S. computer and electronics industries were hit the hardest, with a reported loss of 1.2 million jobs.
Scott also points out that China’s trade tactics, specifically its aggressive export strategy, have reduced the average American worker’s annual wages by $1,800.
“If we continue down the same path for the next 15 years, what will the U.S. economy look like?” asked Leo Gerard, president of United Steelworkers, who joined Scott at a press conference with reporters.
“We have a trading system that does not work. Period,” he added, noting that “China violates every rule there is on normal trading relationships.”
The recent EPI report seems to vindicate President Donald Trump, who has taken a very tough stance on China.
The Chinese “robbing Americans of billions of dollars of capital and millions of jobs,” Trump wrote in a 2015 editorial for the Wall Street Journal. He maintained this position throughout his campaign.
“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” Trump asserted in May last year.
Scott suggested that enforcing existing trade laws and harsh punitive tariffs on Chinese exports, such as those proposed by Trump, to rectify the problem.
“It’s important to have the threat of a tariff as a policy lever,” he said. “It is important to have that gun loaded.”
Scott’s assertions are apparently controversial.
Marcus Noland, director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, called Scott’s findings “basically fallacious,” arguing that there is no direct correlation between the trade deficit and job losses.
Trade “fundamentally does not destroy or create jobs,” Noland told reporters.
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