International trade has become a central theme in this year’s presidential race. Are the two leading candidates leading us into a new type of isolation? Should they be talking so much about manufacturing issues or how to improve the service-sector and American competition? There is little doubt that trade agreements have greatly helped our country, but, it is equally clear that many blue-collar workers and unskilled workers have suffered greatly and are not finding employment. Swirling around the trade issue is the offshoring and outsourcing of American jobs and the very difficult issues of how technology and American Fiscal Policy have affected America’s employment numbers. Finally, if T.P.P. passes, is China likely to lose as supporters claim?
We can argue about how to allocate the blame. But, the problems are real and complicated. And T.P.P comes to a vote, soon.
Our participants are fierce proponents of their respective sides. In one corner, representing the Free Trade advocates is Chris Tomlinson, award winning reporter for the Houston Chronicle who has written extensively on the benefits of free trade. In the other corner, representing groups that oppose NAFTA-model trade agreements and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, still under debate, is Hany Khalil Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation (AFL-CIO),
Probably of greater economic importance than NAFTA and TPP is the fact that trade with China, which entered the World Trade Organization in 2001, has had the greatest impact on American jobs. American consumers have benefited from very low prices but at the cost of several million jobs. The jury is still out whether the United States is outsourcing too much of its technology to China and the Far East and what the long term effects will be. Short term everything looks great but can a country that exports most of its technology and know-how still be a world leader especially when the other side, China, has numerous restrictions on American companies seeking to do business in China? Are we sowing the seeds for our own future decline?
Please invite your friends, fellow Rotarians from other clubs to this very important program.
Chair of the day
Chris Tomlinson (left photo) is a columnist for the Houston Chronicle, New York Times bestselling-author and filmmaker. Before joining the newspaper, he spent 20 years as a correspondent for The Associated Press reporting from 30 countries and nine war zones.
Tomlinson writes about energy, business and the economy in a twice weekly column and in a daily blog for the Chronicle. He is the author of Tomlinson Hill which chronicles the history of two Tomlinson families, one black and one white, who trace their history to a Central Texas slave plantation. He is also the producer of Tomlinson Hill: Are We Equal Yet, an award-winning documentary film.
Tomlinson is also a Fellow in Journalism at the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law and has lectured at the Lyndon B. Johnson School for Public Affairs and the University of Texas at Austin Department of Journalism.
Hany Khalil is the Executive Director of the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, the regional alliance of 77 AFL-CIO unions representing 45,000 workers in thirteen Gulf Coast counties. He has worked as a researcher and organizer in the labor, racial justice, and peace movements for more than twenty-five years.
He holds an M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA with a concentration in Regional and International Development and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University. He wrote much of HISD’s Economics, A.P. Macroeconomics, and A.P. U.S. Government curricula and trained many of HISD’s current AP Macroeconomics and U.S. Government teachers. Before moving back to Houston, his hometown, he taught at New York University.
Hany has served on the boards of several local organizations, including the New Leaders Council-Houston, the Houston Federation of Teachers, and Community Voices for Public Education and is currently a member of Mayor Turner’s Welcoming City Initiative.