Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s appointment as U.S. ambassador to China is a wonderful feather in Utah's cap. Huntsman is a capable individual who will represent President Barack Obama well in this capacity. However, I hope that President Obama will begin to see that the policies of the last two administrations have had less than favorable results for our nation, and that as ambassador, Huntsman will begin work to correct the many inequities that currently exist.
Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1995, the World Trade Organization in 1995 and Permanent Most Favored Nation trading status to China in 2000, the United States has racked up more than $6 trillion in trade deficits. Under GATT, the WTO and Chinese PMFN, we have compiled more than $1.85 trillion in trade deficits to China alone. Since 1995, the United States has spent five times more on goods from China than the value of goods China has imported from the U.S. (These numbers are available at http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/highlights/index.html.)
No matter how you look at it, $6 trillion in trade deficit spending is a huge number. It is equal to almost half our annual domestic product. But more than anything else, it signals mightily that our trade agreements were poorly negotiated and have failed in practical terms. The penumbra of agreements pertaining to China specifically have allowed China to practice mercantilism against the United States and have left us prostrate to China's ever-increasing world ambitions.
That we continue to come to China, hat in hand, is shameful. It makes one wonder what we are ultimately trying to achieve with this so-called "vital partnership." Is the outsourcing of our strategic manufacturing capacity, the outsourcing of American jobs, the outsourcing of innovation itself, so important that we are willing to endure these failed policies to the end?
If America were to make the small step of taking back portions of its manufacturing from China alone, one would be amazed at the forces of entrepreneurship this would unleash across our land. The need and the orders for these products would still exist. This country would absolutely blossom as American entrepreneurs rushed to fulfill the orders here at home. The money we could make would far and away exceed any supposed cost savings that accrue to the consumer of cheap imports. The jobs created would be meaningful and long lasting.
As public opinion begins to turn against the president, and as Americans return to the belief that America is still on the wrong track, President Obama would be well served to genuinely address the many ills caused by our poorly negotiated trade policies. As our ambassador, Huntsman would be in the perfect position to serve the president and serve our nation by putting our relationship with China on the proper footing.
Arthur Taylor is the owner of Black Dog Manufacturing in Hyde Park.