Trade Is More Powerful Than Donald Trump

Freaking out about the end of TPP and NAFTA? Here’s why you shouldn’t.

.. But it’s worth remembering that even if he does go down the path of disrupting global trade pacts, even if the move toward globalization halts, we still cannot return to some imagined past. A return of some manufacturing to the United States is possible and has already been happening, care of technology that makes the cost of making stuff in our expensive country less of an issue. Factories today, however, are output machines, not job machines. A new factory employs hundreds of skilled workers, adept at robot programming or high-end value-add work; it does not employ thousands of shift workers. The myth of manufacturing today is that jobs will come back, but most of the jobs that disappeared over the past decades can never exist again. Period. American withdrawal from the TPP, or changing the terms of NAFTA will not alter that.

.. For instance, U.S. companies have been selling into China for the past 20 years even as the difficulty of doing so has been significant and the costs have been considerable. China is simply too attractive a market for companies to ignore, even with a government that hardly welcomes foreign competition. The United States is an even larger market, which means that a U.S. that is less welcoming to foreign business is still too desirable a market for foreign companies to forgo simply because Washington raises hurdles.

.. Separate from whether these initial trade moves are wise or foolish, they are not nearly as consequential as the Trump administration would have us believe or as various critics would contend. They are mostly words codifying current trends, rather than actions that set America in a new direction.