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USTR claims economic impacts of trade are unknowable

This is from last week, but bizarre and worth highlighting — via U.S. Fed News, a press release from Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) that includes the following:

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) and five U.S. Senators met Tuesday with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab to urge that trade agreements be renegotiated to include benchmarks for success, including whether the agreements had resulted in a net improvement in U.S. job creation and higher wages.

"With stagnant wages and good jobs disappearing, America's workers need a new trade policy that will promote job creation and wage growth at home. This Administration also should be pursuing remedies to China's deliberately undervalued currency, preferably through action at the WTO," Senator Webb said.

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who hosted the meeting, said that while Ambassador Schwab demonstrated a willingness to discuss the concept of benchmarks, she insisted it is not possible to measure the economic impact of trade agreements, including job creation. "We obviously have some differences," Dorgan said.

Schwab's argument would probably come as quite a surprise to folks like Rob Scott at the Economic Policy Institute, who have been doing for the past several years exactly what she claims is impossible in reports like Revisiting NAFTA and Costly Trade With China.

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Comments

conner

If it is true that Schwab "insisted it is not possible to measure the economic impact of trade agreements," Dorgan and Webb should remind U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab of her statement to the Committee on House Ways and Means on February 14, 2007.
Here is one of several claims she made on the record before this congressional committee:
-- Trade Benefits All Americans:Post World War II trade liberalization has raised annual incomes by $1 trillion, or $9,000 per American household; elimination of remaining global barriers would add another $500 billion to annual income or $4,500 per U.S. household (Institute for International Economics)

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