President-elect Donald Trump speaks to workers at Carrier air conditioning and heating on December 1, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

President-elect Trump has said he’ll withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renegotiate NAFTA and impose new tariffs on imports from China and Mexico. He has also called out U.S. companies like General Motors and Carrier for moving jobs abroad. His positions signal a radical departure from a long-standing bipartisan consensus on the value of free trade, which proponents say benefits workers and consumers alike. We discuss the potential economic impacts of the Trump administration’s trade policies.

President-Elect Trump Signals Shift Toward Protectionism 9 January,2017Ray Suarez

Caitlin Webber, trade policy analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence
Dan Ikenson, director, Cato’s Center for Trade Policy Studies
Jared Bernstein, senior fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; former chief economist to Vice President Biden; author, "The Reconnection Agenda: Reuniting Growth and Prosperity"


    It is about time, all of the trade agreements including GAT, NAFTA, KAFTA, and TPP, were all made to enrich the Wall Street and multinational corporations while it totally destroyed the American middle class whose factories were shutdown, tens of millions of jobs were exported, unions destroyed, hundreds of thousands of small were forced to close their doors, the net result was the loss of many tens of millions of well paying American jobs and total destruction of that once was the greatest middle class in the World and send tens of millions to the poorhouse and even homelessness…….The free trade was never free, and the fair trade was never Fair.

    • marte48

      This policy trend was started by Nixon when he went to China in 1972. But it was inevitable after we re-built Germany and Japan (and then Korea) after WWII.


    In early 1980’s president Reagan allowed Japanese corporations to use illegal price fixing schemes to drive all American consumer electronics out of business including the once was the great companies RCA, Zenith, and many others as well many automobile companies which resulted in the the loss of over 30 million well paying American jobs. and cost my own company the loss of over 50 million dollars due to the damage Japanese companies cost my business…..Please look at the case of EIDS TV versus Mitsubishi of Japan filed in San Francisco federal court, and tried the courtroom of judge Stanly Weigel . the case was settled in my favor.


    Beside the tens of millions of well paying jobs NAFTA cost the American people, it also destroyed near all the family owned small farms and small business in Mexico which resulted near all well paying jobs in Mexico that lead to the mass migration to the U S and the drug wars and extreme bloody violence and now Mexico is near failed country.


    After leaving office president Reagan went to Japan and after short speech in front of some Japanese business leaders. Mr Reagan was handed a check for 2 million dollars by Sony corporation CEO, which he smiled and gladly accepted….That was totally shameful specially after the loss of millions of jobs by the shutdown of near all consumer electronics makers because of his action as well as my own loss which far exceeded that and it was done because of his action.

  • jakeleone

    So called “Free Trade” agreements exists so that corporations can play one country off the other, in the same way that sport franchises play one city off the other.

    All of this happens at the national level and workers have nothing to do or say about it. And our politicians know this, so they have completely ignored the working class and concentrated on the donor class.

    Our “Free Trade” agreements are scoffed at world wide. Other countries routinely charge immense VAT taxes on goods we export. China, despite being a WTO member, routinely Tarriffs (massively) U.S. goods (did Obama do anything about this, no).

    Our companies have no issues with the Communist Government-Single Party Dictatorship- of China.

    And for all of his political amibitions, Mark Zuckerberg is using his company resources to help China censor the people of China. Mark Zuckerberg ordered his company to develop an app that will help the Chinese government censor the people of China. How many people in China are going to go to jail or be executed because of this?

    • marte48

      I agree with you, except that the economy that Obama faced was vastly outside of any normal economy.

  • Ben Rawner

    Globalization mostly helps the rich in the US. When American blue collar workers have to compete against workers in Vietnam, China, and Mexico, there is no way the American worked will be chosen. In the end the stable manufacturing jobs will then simply be moved to places that pay the least wages. simultaneously the dismantling of trade restrictions such as tariffs or subsidies allows cheap goods to flow easily into the US which hurts small businesses who do hot have access or refuse to buy these cheap goods. This leads to companies like WalMart among others destroying local small businesses. All the while making the super rich even richer.

  • jurgispilis

    These are treaties. But they are not called treaties, because that would require 2/3rd vote of the Senate. Ray Suarez is even calling NAFTA a treaty – on the air. Everybody knows it is a treaty, but they set up a mechanism to end run the constitution.
    Let’s gives these treaties (even if they are called deals, agreements, sleazy back-stabbing screw jobs, etc.) the full scrutiny and vetting they deserve. Stop violating the constitution.

    Use the duck test. It walks like a duck. it looks like a duck. I smells like a duck. So it is a … treaty!!

  • Kurt thialfad

    These trade treaties always include immigration provisions. Immigration needs to be under the control of Congress, not under the control of any international trade panels that is not accountable to the Congress.

  • Die.Leit

    Most Americans are against free trade. The usurers and their media need to adjust to democracy involving the votes of those getting screwed by these agreements.

    • Kurt thialfad

      It’s not being against free trade, per se. Because this is not about free trade. It’s about establishing rules about trade. Calling it free is misleading.

    • concerneth

      Totally right except this is free in name only. By free we mean based on a free market with little or no influence of tarrifs and duties. But not having a market based currency is a de facto tarriff right from the start.

  • marte48

    Whatever Trump does or doesn’t do, he is inheriting a much better economy than Obama did.

  • Robert Thomas

    I saw the value of effective trade agreement between Japan and Malaysia work very well, in front of my face.

    Caterpillar and Komatsu both made impressive bids to supply forklifts and other equipment for a new facility I was involved with outfitting, in Penang.

    To Caterpillar’s bitter regret, Komatsu got the $35M contract, ENTIRELY because of the Japanese/Malay agreement, in which the U.S was not a participant.

  • Steve

    Interesting column on trade in Sunday’s SF Chronicle Insight section by Sean Randolph of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. Among other points, he highlights that the United States has a trade surplus with the 20 nations with which we have free trade agreements, and that our trade deficit is overwhelmingly with countries such as China with whom we do not have trade agreements.

  • Robert Thomas

    My mother typically spent $15 on a pair of jeans in the early 1970s.

    In today’s money, that would be $85.

    A month ago, I saw a pair of jeans at Costco, on sale for $10.

    In today’s money, that would be $1.75.

    • Bill_Woods

      I think you mean 1970’s money. Unless you think there’s been a huge amount of inflation in the last month….

      • Robert Thomas

        Yeah, copy-and-paste error.

    • marte48

      and there are mountains of jeans in the thrift stores.

    • Logicandcommonsense

      Those $10.00 jeans are a great deal for the consumer. The thing is, if you Mom’s job still exists (with wages adjusted to current inflation levels) those $85.00 jeans would still be “affordable” to folks like your Mom and everyone else making similar wages would be far better off as would all the “local economies”.

      • Robert Thomas

        I don’t think so. Apparel was once a significant component of domestic expense for middle class people. Now, it’s not. While the dollar has inflated over 500% since 1972, apparel cost has plummeted. If Apparel prices had kept up with inflation, total inflation would have been even greater. Whether a basic pair of kids’ jeans, expected to be outgrown in a year, would be now considered a bargain at $85 is easily debatable. $30 cup of coffee, while you’re thinking about it?

        It is a simple, inescapable fact that for thirty years after WWII, the United States supplied fifty percent of the world’s manufactured goods. Such a customer base beyond the domestic market buoyed prosperity here very significantly. As the American monopoly on supplying the world’s manufactured goods waned after 1970, the increase in the number of its double incomes advanced U.S. household wealth for another ten to fifteen years. After that, real wages have stagnated. There is no way to return to the days when such a domination of the surplus foreign market will allow unskilled and semi-skilled workers to enjoy the income prospects they had in 1965. There is just no way. It is magical thinking to expect this.

        Well… there IS a way, obviously. Incinerate the manufacturing centers of Europe and Asia and (now, also) Latin America, the way that on the morning of March 10 1945, 150,000 civilians of Tokyo were incinerated with conventional incendiary bombs. It would take a lot more bombs, now, but it could be done. It could be HYOOGE.

        • Logicandcommonsense

          Robert: With all of your “data” and historical “recollection”, you seem to be missing or ignoring a couple or significant facts. Back when your mother was spending $15.00 on a pair of jeans, what percentage profit was the manufacturer of those jeans happy with?? Compare that profit margin with the current corporate “contentment” level. Back when your mom was paying $15.00 for jeans, the “middle class” was a huge, comfortable, self reliant group. Able to pay their rent, feed their family, educate their offspring, and live a comfortable life. Those are the people you speak of where Apparel was a significant component of domestic expense. Many of those same people, today, are now earning minimum wage instead of middle class “living wages” or have become “homeless”. So, those $10.00 “bargain” jeans you are so happy about come at quite the “high price”. If you are fortunate enough to continue to be “middle” or “upper” class, those same $10.00 jeans are great and you “sell” the “cheap is good” rhetoric while more and more workers drop from self sustainability to multiple job poverty and membership in “social programs”. It’s known to some as “Progress”.
          The “bottom line” is the people who have the money are always going to be the ones who pay!! So, that brings those folks to a choice.

          1- would you rather “pay” through higher taxes in order to support a growing class of poor through social programs??
          2- would you rather pay through higher prices driven by higher wages to provide “middle class/living wages” to workers so they can pay their own taxes, rent, education??

          One choice allows people to live a dignified life paying their own way while the other requires a ever smaller group to pay a ever increasing rate of taxes.

  • tommm

    Seems to me these conversations may often miss the fundamental problem? There has been an implicit “trickle down” assumption respecting “free trade” — in a world where there is huge inequity in distribution of wealth AND in which there are no guarantees for the global right for labor to organize — free trade merely globalizes elite power

    • concerneth

      Not to mention environmental protections.

  • Skip Conrad

    You guest mentioned currency manipulation. How does a country (e.g. China) manipulate the exchange rate between the USD and the RMB? Can China just unilaterally state the rate? Whatever it chooses? No! Exchange rates float, according to the market. The way China keeps her currency exchange rate low is by buying dollars USD!

    But we want China to buy USD. So are we being hypocritical by complaining about China’s action?

    • concerneth

      That is not the whole picture. They also only allow internal change at specified rate via forced gov mandate. So in this case no, it is by no means floating.

      Not everyone here wants to be indebted to China either.

  • marte48

    In the early 90’s, the defense industry started to “downsize” in response to the end of the Cold War and the deals that Ronald Reagan made with Russia. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs in the SF bay area. Lockheed layed off 20,000 in Sunnyvale, which had a rippling effect on all the companies that depended upon Lockheed. Mare Island closed, Moffett Field was “retired,” Oakland Army Base was closed. Alameda Island Naval base was closed. Many people left the bay area. Then by 1994, DARPAnet was given over to the public as the “internet” and all engineering jobs changed.

  • Hannah Preece

    If Donald Trump insisted on Trade Deals where products could only be imported “freely” from countries with environmental protection and labor standards comparable to the USA that would level the playing field in a way I could get on board with. It would be good for the rest of the world too.

  • Kurt thialfad

    You’ve been talking abut getting out of the TPP. We are not in the TPP. And hopefully we will never get in.

  • Yinfu

    One of the “Free Market” commentaters has stated that “We have nothing to learn from China.” and “China doesn’t have the ability to innovate.” This hubris and arrogance is why we are going to fail. China is now becoming one of the leaders in biotech genetic testing. This is about as “cutting edge” as you can get. The difference between China and Germany versus the US, is that China and German actually have an industrial trade policy.

    • Logicandcommonsense

      China and German business appears to be willing to consider ventures on a “long term” basis and be willing to accept lower levels of profit. Germany, in particular, is willing to pay its workers better than U.S. workers and still provide a strong economy while not suffering from those negatives ALWAYS cited by the corporate special interests here in order to maintain their “get rich quick” profit margins.

  • Another Mike

    The problem with becoming the world leader in anything is how to maintain it.

    As EIDALM alludes to, the US was the world leader in consumer electronics until we allowed the Japanese to dump televisions in our market. (PBS Frontline did an excellent show covering this, several years ago.) It was actually cheaper for Japanese to buy TVs here for use back home, than to buy one in their home market. (Japan is mostly the same voltage as here).

    • EIDALM

      They also used illegal price fixing schemes to make their televisions much more profitable than equivalent American sets, so near all retail outlet pushed the sales of Japanese sets over American products, and that eventually put an end of all American made consumers electronics….I was the only business who refused to follow the Japanese dictating my pricing policies, they entered in group boycott with other Japanese companies as well as many large Bay Area retail shops which cost me millions of dollars of damage and that led to my law suit…..I will post Message from Eid which I ran in many Bay Area newspapers which will shed light about my struggle and the whole history of the demise of the American consumer electronics companies

  • Logicandcommonsense

    So much of our discussion on ALL of these policy issues has become totally centered on “word definition”. As illustrated by the responses of your guests to caller or text inputs, when a caller/author refers to the effects of “Free” or “Fair” trade, the “expert” somewhat dismisses the comments and assertions as those are not “TRADE” issues, they are “Globalization” issues. WHATEVER WORD you choose to use, the effects to the “former” middle class are real and need to be recognized and dealt with by the “special interest” advocates of the average citizens. The “ELECTED OFFICIALS”.

    So often, as in always, the term/word “economy” is used to argue the benefits and/or pitfalls of any idea, theory, or policy. Without exception, however, “the economy” only includes the gains or losses experienced by “Business/Wall Street” and totally ignores the effect on the every day American worker. How much profit the corporations are, or will be, making becomes “how the economy is doing or will be doing”. Evidenced by how the stock market is about to crest 20,000 while wages have been essentially stagnant since 1980.

    To the concept offered by one of the guest speakers and pretty much refuted by the other regarding the US making a concentrated effort to dominate the emerging renewable energy market, the negative response is so emblematic of how business/wall street react to such a prospect. Between that proposal and the discussion of manufacturing “within” this country and comparing those with Germany, the underlying “negative” replies were based upon the business ethic that very large profits need to be realized in a very short time or “we’re not interested/it’s impossible”. A business policy/strategy that has emerged since that same period beginning 1980.


    During documents discovery in my law suit against Mitsubishi of Japan, one document showed that year Japan exported 600 thousand cars to the U S while only importing 20 thousands American cars….That really was the beginning of the end of the American middle class.


    Not made in the USA

    When Eid’s TV opened for business in 1973, 98% of the consumer
    electronics sold in the United States were made in the U.S.A. Today almost all
    of it is manufactured overseas.
    The foreign corporations who dominate the American market today
    had inferior products before the 1970s. They invaded the marketplace, first
    by imitating American products and then by hiring top managers, engineers, and
    salespeople away from American companies, such as Zenith and RCA. They lured
    them by offering them much higher salaries and benefits. They paid them
    enormous premiums over their former salaries so far as to obtain know-how
    trade secrets, dealer lists and other proprietary information.
    Once the foreign producers achieved significant penetration of
    the American market, they began to engage in price fixing schemes, primarily
    by offering much larger profit margins to the dealers who agreed to sell only
    at the corporate set “list prices” and by refusing to supply products to
    dealers who sold at a discount, for instance, an RCA TV with a wholesale price
    of $300 sold for $350 while, equivalent imported sets that wholesaled for $150
    could only be sold at $500 according to the “list pricing” scheme.
    Sales people were instructed to disparage American products as
    they were pressured to promote imports with much higher profit margins, and
    even given commissions directly from the manufactures. American made TV demo
    models were connected to deficient signals to make them appear second rate.
    Outright lies were told about the products under comparison, such as the claim
    that only the imported sets had the state-of-the-art “one gun” color picture
    By the early 1980’s, Eid’s achieved gross sales twice that of
    the nearest Bay Area competitor. In 1984, one major foreign manufacturer,
    whose products accounted for millions of Eid’s annual sales, demanded that Eid
    stop discounting below the corporate list prices, or face being cut off from
    further supplies. This company made good on this threat after Eid refused,
    going so far as to pressure alternative distributors not to supply Eid’s TV
    with their merchandise.
    Other major brand name electronics companies were recruited in
    this effort to stop Eid from discounting, along with several of the regional
    retail competitors, in effect forming a market controlling cartel against
    Eid’s TV. They went so far as to rent a fake storefront across the street
    from Eid’s TV, whose only purpose was to disparage Eid and his products. They
    never intended to back up the store with actual product. After Eid obtained
    several hundred color sets against the wishes of one large foreign
    corporation, bullet holes appeared in his store windows, and profanity
    graffiti was painted in front of his house on Euclid Avenue. He was forced to
    spend nearly one million dollars on security services in order to protect his
    family and employees. No governmental enity would do anything to stop these
    practices, even though they were overt violations of the laws against
    restraint of trade.
    When Eid spent hundreds of thousands of dollars seeking
    protection from Federal and State courts to stop the foreign companies and
    their greedy retailers from interfering with his business, Eid did not get
    much help even after winning many suits filed against them. It only made them
    more angry and more determined to destroy Eid and his electronic empire. At
    the same time because of the large amount of money spent by these foreign
    companies and their lobbyists in Washington D.C., the Antitrust Laws were
    weakened by many and unjust rulings by Federal Courts “Judge Bork.” There
    went any hope for correcting these wrongs as well as making any consumer
    electronics in America.
    The foreign corporations spent millions to influence the
    coverage of these issues in the news media, effectively suppressing stories
    concerning their anti-competitive practices while obtaining favorable and
    misleading reviews of their own products imports were granted the prized “top
    rated” label even when they were known to contain serious design flaws and
    manufacturing defects. Glowing reports about foreign made TV sets sometimes
    appeared in American magazines even before they were actually offered for
    sale. As a result, the whole American consumer electronics industry was
    The foreign manufactured products that are offered for sale may
    be inexpensive, but they are of low quality and designed to be simply thrown
    away rather than repaired. The objective is destroy American manufacturing
    and dealer services as well, in order to keep the U.S.A. from ever producing
    competitive products again.
    Today the U.S.A. has recorded trade deficits of hundreds of
    billions of dollars with Japan and China; their agents of influence spend
    hundreds of millions of dollars to lobby agencies of government.
    Many past U.S. Trade Representatives, Senators, and Congressmen
    have obtained high paying jobs with foreign owned corporations; some of them
    even worked for these foreign competitors before entering U.S. government
    If the American consumer continues to settle for a marketplace
    controlled by a handful of huge corporations all selling the same throwaway
    junk, the consumer will find that “choice” is an illusion, and that all the
    decisions have already been made.
    Today American consumers continue to mindlessly accept this
    state of affair, and assume large chains offer lower prices when in fact most
    of the businesses today utilize the bait and switch tactic. If closely looked
    upon, we find that all name brands are sold at the same price at most chain
    Remember whenever you buy foreign made products your allowing
    your neighbor to lose his job, and maybe the next job lost will be your own.

    • EIDALM

      I wrote this article over 25 years ago, I paid for it to run in the Berkeley Daily Planet for over 10 years at a cost of $200 a week, as well as U C Berkeley Daily Californian for several years.

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