Are Trade Deals Good for America?
At Withum’s Fourth Annual Global Summit, we heard one panel, comprised of representatives of international accounting firms associates with Withum, discuss Congress and international business policies. This discussion was interesting because of the highly-charged focus on trade agreements at Monday’s Presidential Debate. An overall feeling was that trade agreements have had more modest effects on the US economy than the rhetoric suggests. These agreements promote and govern not only traditional goods and services but technology-intensive services where the US has a strong competitive advantage. The agreements provide a rules-based-system that protects intellectual property such as patents by providing dispute settlement procedures when disagreements occur. The US has been a big beneficiary of these procedures. While high-tech and agriculture has benefited from recent trade deals, there have been losers and this is what we heard about in the debate. Manufacturing that relies on unskilled labor has moved to lower wage countries. Perhaps the US has not done all it could to help these disadvantaged workers at home who feel no comfort that jobs are created elsewhere in the US. As this notable panel summarized, trade deals are only a small part of globalization with its rapid movement of goods and service throughout the world. Much of the rapid change in the world economy has come from technological innovation not trade deals. The panelists believed our two presidential candidates were correct that some aspects of trade deals and government policies need to be constantly monitored. An example frequently mentioned is China’s currency manipulation which increases their trade surpluses. The US needs to take action on these type of abuses. The panels put together by Withum from their international partners at HLB International provided a view from outside the US. Their perspective was refreshing and much more positive on the US economy than we sometimes hear. Withum puts considerable effort into these Summits and it shows.
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