After years of languishing, trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are moving swiftly through Congress.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican who represents Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District, is a fan of the pacts because they aim to produce jobs in the United States.
“These agreements will increase U.S. exports of goods and services and support the creation of over 250,000 new U.S. jobs,” he said on Oct. 3.
Just how many jobs the deals will create is a matter of debate, and Paulsen’s estimate is on the high end.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office (USTR) says the South Korea deal could create 70,000 jobs.
The administration isn’t giving a jobs estimate for Colombia deal, but a rough ballpark estimate would be about 6,000 jobs based on numbers from the trade office.
As for the Panama deal, there is no export estimate because the effects of the agreement would be very small on the U.S. export market, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission’s 2007 analysis of the agreement.
A separate estimate conducted by Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon who chairs a Senate trade subcommittee, shows that, taking into account changes in the economy since the recession, the South Korea agreement alone could create 280,000 jobs.
All those estimates leave out an important factor: Open trade will increase U.S. exports, but it will also increase U.S. imports, which means some people could lose their jobs. For instance, the Wyden report points out that employees in the manufacturing sector will be vulnerable as a result of the South Korea deal.
Robert Scott, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, ran the numbers, too, and found that the South Korea and Colombia agreements would result in the loss of 214,000 jobs within seven years of ratification.
Paulsen’s jobs estimate is on the high end of a range of estimates. As a result, PoliGraph rates this claim inconclusive.
Rep. Erik Paulsen, Paulsen Statement on Submission of Long-Awaited Trade Agreements, Oct. 3, 2011
YouTube, speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Erik Paulsen, Oct. 3, 2011
The House Ways and Means Committee, Camp Sets Deadline for Moving the Three Pending Trade Agreements, But When Will the Administration Act?, Feb. 11, 2011
Bloomberg News, Obama Submits Pending Free-Trade Agreements to Congress, by Eric Martin, Oct. 3, 2011
Bloomberg, Obama Says U.S.-China Trade Spurs Prosperity for Both, By Edwin Chen and Julianna Goldman, Nov. 16, 2009
The New York Times, Free Trade Standoff Is Resolved, by Binyamin Appelbaum, Oct. 3, 2011
The United States International Trade Commission, The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement: Potential Economy-wide and Selected Sectoral Effects, Dec. 2006
The United States International Trade Commission, The U.S.-Korea Trade Promotion Agreement: Potential Economy-wide and Selected Sectoral Effects, Sept. 2007
The United States International Trade Commission, The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement: Potential Economy-wide and Selected Sectoral Effects, Sept. 2007
The White House, Statement by the President Announcing the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, December 3, 2010
The White House, Fact Sheets: U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, April 19, 2011
The White House, Fact Sheets: U.S.-Columbia Trade Agreement and Action Plan, April 6, 2011
Public Citizen, The Incredible Shrinking FTA Jobs Claim, by Travis McArthur, March 25, 2011
The Economic Policy Institute, Trade policy and job loss, By Robert E. Scott, February 25, 2010
E-mail correspondence, Tom Erickson, spokesman, Rep. Erik Paulsen, Oct. 4, 2011
Interview, Robert Scott, economist, Economic Policy Institute, Oct. 5, 2011