Trade

Falling U.S. taxes on imported products and slowly crumbling foreign barriers to U.S. commerce have provided a number of benefits for Americans and American businesses. American consumers have unprecedented choices when it comes to everything from cars and computers to cell phones and coffee. U.S. manufacturing and agricultural exports have grown strongly over the last decade. Between 1994 and 2004, for example, exports in U.S. manufacturing and agriculture have increased 65 percent and 38 percent, respectively. And United States exports of high technology products have grown by a whopping 67 percent during the past 10 years. Unfortunately however, it isn t all good news. Many recent trade agreements have done far more than just phase out high U.S. taxes on imports and open new markets for U.S. businesses a lot more. In fact, the primary import American trade negotiators seem concerned with these days is foreign workers. Take the recently approved Central American Free Trade Agreement, for example. Buried among its nearly 1,000 pages, the agreement contains an expansive definition of cross-border trade in services. This definition would effectively give people from Central American nations a de facto right to work in the United States. In fact, CAFTA is more than a just trade agreement about sugar and bananas; it is a thinly disguised immigration accord. Little effort is even made by the U.S. trade officials to hide their efforts. One article of the agreement reads, Cross-border trade in services or cross-border supply of services means the supply of a service by a national of a party in the territory of another party. CAFTA also stipulates that member nations take care to ensure that local and national measures relating to qualification requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements do not constitute unnecessary barriers to trade in services, and the U.S. is required to guarantee that our domestic laws are, not in themselves a restriction on the supply of the service. U.S. immigration limits, visa requirements or even licensing requirements and zoning rules could be considered unnecessary barriers to trade that act as restrictions on the supply of a service. Congress would then be forced to change our immigration laws, or face international trade sanctions. If CAFTA and its successors were really just about trade, the agreements would be little more than a few pages long, setting a schedule for opening markets and phasing out unfair taxes on goods. But they aren t. In reality, these agreements have become vehicles to expand a growing body of international law that threatens to supersede our own national sovereignty.