Sapiro, a visiting fellow in Brookings` Global Program for Economics and Development, was a U.S. Trade Assistant and current U.S. Trade Agent from 2009 to 2014 and also served with the National Security Council and the U.S. Department of State. Sapiro also recently interviewed two members of Congress, Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) on the next steps on the U.S. trade agenda. Members of Congress stressed the importance of trade to their districts and the competitiveness of the United States as a whole. Both believe that the development of legislation on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is one of the top priorities and a bipartisan agenda item of Congress. Second, many low-skilled U.S. workers have service jobs that cannot be replaced by imports from low-wage countries. For example, lawn care services, moving and transportation services or hotel women cannot be imported from remote people such as China or Bangladesh. Competition from imported products is not the main determinant of their wages.
Workers in many low-income countries around the world work in conditions that would be illegal for a worker in the United States. Workers in countries such as China, Thailand, Brazil, South Africa and Poland often receive less wages than the MINIMUM SALAIRE in the United States. In the United States, for example, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour; A typical salary in many low-income countries could be $7.25 a day, or often much less. In addition, working conditions in income countries can be extremely unpleasant or even precarious. In the worst case scenario, production may involve the work of young children, or even workers, who are almost treated as slaves. These concerns about foreign labour standards do not concern most of U.S. trade, which is intra-industrial and is carried out with other high-income countries, which have labour standards similar to those of the United States, but is nevertheless morally and economically important. The study shows that the industries and regions concerned “have been hit hard and have not recovered. Workers in these sectors and regions do not have better jobs, or even similar jobs in different sectors. Instead, they mingle from low-paid jobs to low-paid jobs and never recover the prosperity they had before the Chinese competition. Many of them end up on welfare.
This is very different from previous decades, when workers who lost their jobs to import competition generally went into higher productivity industries, to the benefit of almost all. But conservative economists have questioned this interpretation of the evidence. “Imports only mean lost jobs if we claim to be able to do all the things we import here in the same way and at the same price,” said Derek M. Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington Post.