Nerds v. Suits, 2-1
Last Friday, we did an analysis of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's latest pro-FTA screed, and showed that their selective use of only 10 of the 14 FTA countries to make a point about export growth was seriously misleading. Stumo called "truthy" on 'em, which sounds about right.
The Chamber has responded, and they confirm that when all 14 countries are thrown into the mix, U.S. export growth to non-FTA countries is in fact higher than to FTA countries.
But they then attempt to make at another selective cut, this time including Jordan and Israel but still excluding Canada and Mexico (i.e. NAFTA). There is no clear reason for doing that, since, as they note, NAFTA is the biggest FTA. But it does weaken their argument, since export growth to NAFTA nations is the lowest of any of the FTAs. Hey, we didn't exclude Chile from our calculations - why should they exclude NAFTA??
However, the Chamber scores a point for catching that we were not using the estimates of 2008 exports as our base for calculating growth trajectory for Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Kudos to the Chamber's Brad Peck for catching my bubu.
However, because the export growth rate to the full 14 FTAs is still below that of non-FTA countries, there continues to be an "export penalty" under this exercise of $17.4 billion. That's a little less than our original export penalty calculation, but it's still a penalty.
Nerds v. Suits, 2-1.
Of course, the whole exercise is more than a little D&D. As we noted last week, making arguments about export growth without reference to import growth and the overall trade deficit is about as useful as using a halfling to fight a hell hound (err, or whatever). And is also sidesteps the issue of why one would promote an FTA, rather than just promote trade or tariff reduction more generally.