One Step Forward,
By: Bruce S. Berton
It is the 10th anniversary of NAFTA, and most of our Free Trade Agreements are based on NAFTA formulas. There are many industries involved, but I will set this platform for the textile/apparel industries.
There are critics on all sides of this agreement. On a national basis, it is a BIG win for Mexico, but also a win-win for the United States and Canada. Mexico in 1993 did $294 billion in trade and in 2003, $653 billion.
The steps backwards: The USA lost jobs in certain regions due to NAFTA. Mexico, with all of this increase in jobs and trade dollars, has not invested in its educational system, revised the judicial system, or restructured the financial banking system to enhance trade and investment at all levels.
China and quota elimination is the big question of the day. The USA supported the opening of trade with China in 1974, and now supported China's entrance into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The step forward is that economic trade between nations tends to stop wars. We used capitalism to break up communism and another cold war. We are also benefiting by remaining competitive and giving our consumers the best prices, quality, and selection.
The steps backwards: many cultural differences, business philosophies and pirating of intellectual properties, patents, copyrights, trademarks and industrial secrets have caused great alarm. Low wages have been exploited and labor compliance issues have cost jobs in the USA marketplace. The transshipping of goods to seek higher profits (exporters and importers), both equally involved, has made the playing field un-level and with many divots in our industry.
For the WTO, the step forward is that the organization is allowing many nations to have a chance to enter into other economies, advance their standard of living, and have the dignity of working for their population. This is a forum for peace in our time.
The steps backwards: the WTO has broken into internal groups of nations demanding unrealistic paybacks on many outdated issues. Some are inflexible towards change and the issues of today; rather, they rely on what was agreed upon many years ago, without taking into account the global changes that have taken place. They even have difficulty holding a meeting.
For the USA, the step forward is that we have moved from a production
society to a service society, and yet our
The steps backwards include the lack of our educational system to teach and train our youth for the needs of our economy -- retraining those that have been passed over by becoming a global society. Another step backwards is the low voting participation in our elections.
I am not preaching Gloom and Doom. I am saying that this is still the land of opportunity, and no matter what ethnic background you or your forefathers are from, we all become Americans after living in the USA for a short time. We blend our ideas and hard work, and continue to prosper using Yankee Ingenuity.
Have a good second half of 2004.