And EIC is coming to the Lowcountry to discuss solutions to this and similar economic problems.
The event is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5th at the Charleston County Public Library on 68 Calhoun St.
The topic has much relativity to the Lowcountry, too, says Williford, which is why Charleston is first on a list of many cities across the country where EIC will make similar presentation.
The North American Free Trade Agreement, for example, allows duty-free imports between Canada, Mexico and the U.S., and is credited with costing over 3.6 million American manufacturing jobs since its institution in 1994, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
NAFTA greatly contributes to the very-high unemployment in South Carolina, too, Williford states, and due to drops in local manufacturing jobs and in port activity in Charleston and Georgetown.
To solve those problems that directly extend from NAFTA requires a complete re-evaluation of the agreement, EIC professes.
“NAFTA is the quintessential example of what is wrong with our trade policy,” Williford offers. “For example, before admitting countries to the (European Union), checks are done to ensure a nation's economy is compatible with the rest of the EU. When we implemented NAFTA, we tried to fit three diverse economies in a one-size-fits-all agreement that clearly isn't working.
“The continuation of NAFTA threatens the remaining manufacturing in this country,” he summarizes, “and sets a dangerous precedent for the Korean FTA and other arrangements the government is now working on.”
The effects of such trade programs strike middle-class America worst, he adds, and could be the dominant influence on the economy. “America is losing its middle class because of our trade policies, and that's something our organization feels can be corrected by providing the kind of quality jobs that only manufacturing can, as well as amending our trade agreements.”
Problems created by free trade agreements are abetted by both extreme-right and –left political spectrums, says Williford, and both of those opposite sides need to be addressed in order to find a center ground of common public good.
“Traditional Republicans who support big business tend to prefer the status quo, as it is making record profits for large, multi-national corporations, as well as neo-liberals who have a fervent belief in uniting the world, no matter the consequences to developed or developing countries,” Williford says.
“We feel that by educating the public on these issues, a groundswell of political support can form to put pressure on these individuals equal to or greater than the pressure lobbyists bring to bear.”
While addressing specific topics that some may find to be solely of progressive nature, EIC is notably bipartisan. Its regular contributors range from Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan (So. Dak.) to Pat Buchanan, once presidential candidate of the Republican Party. Even Tea Party Republicans and Libertarians share the beliefs of EIC on the topic of free trade, says Williford.
EIC was founded by an electronics businessman from Ohio who was dismayed by the trend of overseas manufacturing of products his company sold. EIC believes a revival in American manufacturing and improvement to the impacts of free trade can solve our country’s economic problems.
There is no charge to attend the February 5 forum.