Just before Commerce Secretary Gary Locke went on a high-profile trip to China with 24 business executives to advocate for making it easier to send American jobs overseas, he was quoted in a Bloomberg article making the Orwellian claim that helping these firms expand in China would create more jobs at home. Locke is even using a study prepared by the Business Roundtable, a corporate lobby, that says outsourcing American jobs raises American workers' standard of living.
Locke's trip comes as the steps China is taking to develop its own industry are making it tougher for American companies to do business there on their terms. A recent survey by the Chamber of Commerce showed that 38 percent of all American companies feel unwelcome in China. American CEOs feel this isn't fair and fear that if they are unable to move their operations to China, their profits will suffer.
Among the group of companies going to China is Timken--maker of ball bearings for windmills. In the past Timken had filed trade cases against Japan and China over broken trade laws. Now, with half of Timken's workforce located in Asia to take advantage of cheaper production costs, Timken is now pressing the Chinese government to let them expand their production in China.
Had the United States taken aggressive action, such as tariffs, against China's unfair trade policies, including their lax environmental/labor standards and illegal currency manipulation, companies like Timken would more likely have expanded in America. As United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard said to Bloomberg News, "We would like to see Timken expanding in America and exporting to China." Instead, Chinese companies dominate the wind energy market, making 85 percent of the world's windmills.
The lack of an American industrial policy and a strong Chinese industrial policy make it imperative that companies such as Timken move overseas.
Former Reagan trade official Clyde Prestowitz masterfully explains in his new book, "The Betrayal of American Prosperity," how America's decline is due to the embrace of free trade as a "win-win" situation and its failure to intervene in the economy to help developing industries like wind energy manufacturers.
AFL CIO President Richard Trumka has described "The Betrayal of American Prosperity" as "essential reading for workers, activists and policymakers who want to restore the American Dream".
Prestowitz, Trumka, and Campaign for America's Future Co-Director Robert Borosage on Tuesday will discuss Prestowitz's new book and how the U.S. can rebuild its economy. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the AFL-CIO headquarters in downtown Washington. RSVP here to attend this important event.