Statement by Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga On New Federal Trade Deficit Data

Columbus, OH – On February 5th the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the national trade deficit had risen to $531.5 billion for 2015, up $23.2 billion or 4.6 percent from 2014.

The data indicate that the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to be the biggest contributor to the national trade deficit, as that figure increased to $365.7 billion in 2015, a new record.

On the occasion, Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga released the following statement:

“This new data is further evidence that we cannot afford to enter into any fast-tracked trade agreements that do not protect American working people from the unfair trade practices that have resulted from similarly negotiated deals.  These increased trade deficits have risen with each passing year after trade agreements with China and NAFTA nations have exponentially increased imports, without providing any reciprocating economic benefit on our end.”

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as currently written, would further exacerbate our trade deficit problem because it does not provide American workers with the necessary protections to begin to shrink our national trade deficits.”

“Specifically, any trade deal needs to do the following in order to achieve a deal that is fair and beneficial to the working people of Ohio:

  • Exclude investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and other provisions that favor foreign companies over domestic ones and undermine public choices;
  • Ensure that countries cannot undercut U.S. based producers with weaker labor and environmental laws and enforcement;
  • Ensure that the U.S. will engage in robust enforcement of trade rules, including labor and environmental rules;
  • Include strong rule of origin to promote economic growth and job creation in the U.S.;
  • Promote high standards of protection for workplaces, products, and natural resources rather than promoting a race to the bottom; and
  • Put the interests of people over the interests of private profit.

“We will be communicating these priorities to our congressional delegation and will hold them accountable should they choose to support anything less.”