June 04, 2015
for Bernie Sanders and
Americans are lurching back to rationality on trade.
polls show that with the Great Recession behind us, globalization is regaining
popularity. The freshest evidence arrived via a
Pew Research Center survey. In mid-May, the organization found that 43
percent of respondents held a “positive view of the financial impact of free
trade agreements, up 17 points since 2010.” In a red vs. blue who’d-have-thunk-it,
more Democrats thought tariff-lowering pacts “have been good for the U.S.” than
Republicans. Two likely causes? “Younger adults” (those under 30) are “particularly
likely to view free trade agreements positively,” as are Latinos.
April, NBC News and The Wall Street
Journal asked: “In general, do you think that free trade between the United
States and foreign countries has helped the United States, has hurt the United
States, or has not made much of a difference either way?” Thirty-seven percent
picked “helped.” The
Journal’s Siobhan Hughes called the
result “a turning point: it marks the first time in more than 15 years that
a plurality of Americans said that free trade helped. The last time Americans
had more positive than negative views of trade was in December 1999, when 39
percent of respondents said that free trade agreements benefited the country
and 30 percent who said the deals hurt.”
February trade poll supplied encouraging results, too. Asked to opt for “foreign trade as an opportunity for economic growth through increased
U.S. exports” or “a threat to the economy from foreign imports,” 58 percent
chose the former.
promising, the survey findings are somewhat puzzling, given the powerful forces
working overtime to denigrate free trade. Unions, the environmental left,
countless pundits, populist pols left and right -- lots of people
make their livings assaulting the notion of capitalism on a planetary scale.
trade has a secret weapon: foreign direct investment (FDI).
United States is home to more [FDI] than any other country in the world,”
according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Vinai Thummalapally,
“with a total stock valued at $2.8 trillion as of 2013, approximately 18
percent of U.S. gross domestic product. FDI flows into the United States are
robust, totaling nearly $231 billion in 2013, up from $170 billion in 2012.”
marquee FDI came courtesy of Volvo. The Swedish automaker will build “its first
[factory] in the United States since entering the market 60 years ago,” The New York Times reported. Initial
production is planned for 2018, and in time, 4,000 South Carolinians could be
occurs on a smaller scale, though. In the last several months:
Auto-parts manufacturer Ficosa announced
a new facility in Tennessee. The Spanish multinational will spend $58 million
and create 550 jobs.
Lighting, based in Korea, picked
Georgia to host its North American headquarters. The company will make a $30
million investment and plans 200 hires.
Interpack, a subsidiary of Thailand’s Royal Group, announced
a new recycled-plastic operations center -- and 135 jobs -- in Indiana.
Israel’s Caesarstone Sdot-Yam, a manufacturer of “quartz surfaces,” chose
to expand production in Georgia, an investment predicted to create 130
Ohyama, a Japanese vendor of consumer plastics, sited
its “Western United States Regional Headquarters” in Arizona. It will spend at
least $33 million and hire 100 workers.
Praising “renowned Southern hospitality and friendly people,” U.K.-based
answering service Moneypenny selected
South Carolina for a new operations center. Forty openings will be filled
immediately, with plans for up to 400 within the next five years.
Chemical Corporation, of Germany, announced
the creation of 15 jobs through a $60 million expansion of its Kentucky
France’s 2CRSI, which makes customized servers, established
its North American headquarters in North Carolina. Two employees are working
now, with between five and eight to come. The firm’s COO said 2CRSI is “here to
stay in the U.S.” and hopes “that we could actually build or take over a small
factory next year to do the same thing we do in France.”
credit, Barack Obama is dedicating some of his dwindling presidency to winning fast-track
authority and boosting support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Predictably, he’s stressing freer trade’s potential for enhanced exports. But
FDI offers another tool in the campaign for greater globalization. The polls suggest
that millions of Americans understand how money spent abroad often
returns to the nation in the form of quality jobs. It’s a reservoir of good
will that the president should employ.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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