Last October, President Obama and House Republicans teamed up to pass a NAFTA-style deal with Korea, even though the government's own projections showed it would increase the U.S. trade deficit.
That deal ended up going into effect on March 15 of of this year (despite many Koreans' opposition to the rights given multinationals under the pact, not to mention the opposition of many here at home).
We now have the first full month of data on the deal, and it's not looking good.
The deal, sold as a way to increase job-creating U.S. exports, actually saw job-displacing imports rise much more quickly in its first full month. As Inside U.S. Trade reports,
The U.S. trade deficit in goods with South Korea tripled during the first full month the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement was in force, amid a slight decrease in the overall U.S. goods and services deficit that month, according to April trade data released last week by the Commerce Department. The bilateral FTA went into effect on March 15.
The U.S. goods trade deficit with South Korea grew to $1.8 billion in April, with imports totaling roughly $5.5 billion compared to exports of $3.7 billion. That was a larger bilateral deficit than the $0.6 billion recorded in March, where imports totaled $4.8 billion and exports were $4.2 billion. In April 2011, the U.S. goods deficit with Korea was $1 billion.
On auto trade, the bilateral deficit with South Korea climbed to $1.65 billion in April from $1.45 billion the previous month. While U.S. exports of autos and auto parts stayed the same over both months at roughly $100 million, imports from Korea rose to $1.76 billion in April from $1.56 billion the previous month. The data were released June 8.
While it's difficult to draw too many conclusions from a single month of data, rest assurred that workers concerned about offshoring of jobs and trade displacement are going to be watching these numbers closely for many months and years to come. If the trade deficit (in autos and more generally) continues to climb, it will be very difficult for policymakers to sell more NAFTAs (like the proposed TPP) to an already skeptical public.