Can I Get Some Free Trade in My Free Trade Agreements?

Last week, I voiced several complaints about the Trans Pacific Partnership, the main trade agreement being negotiated by the U.S.  Let me add another concern: There’s too much protectionism in this “free trade” agreement.  Here are two good examples, as reported by Reuters:

Shoes:

U.S. athletic footwear manufacturer New Balance said on Thursday that it pressed the top U.S. trade official during a visit to its Norridgewock, Maine, factory to maintain tariffs on shoes from Vietnam in a proposed free-trade deal.

Only 3,000 workers still make footwear in the United States, with about 1,350 of them employed by New Balance, headquartered in Boston, company spokesman Matt LeBretton told Reuters by phone after the meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

New Balance wants Washington to maintain tariffs on roughly 20 categories of athletic shoes from Vietnam.

LeBretton said that at the meeting with Kirk, a New Balance employee asked, ‘Can you tell us right now you’re going to protect our jobs through this free-trade agreement?’”

LeBretton sounded a hopeful note after Kirk’s visit.

“We’re certainly encouraged by his visit today that (the) USTR is hearing what we say,” LeBretton said.

Sugar:

The U.S. government has told domestic sugar producers that it does not plan to allow Australia to export any additional sugar to the United States under a proposed regional free trade pact, a U.S. sugar industry analyst said on Friday.