The current regime of hyperglobalization, fueled by decades of bad trade policies, has left people in the United States and around the world more vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis. We cannot make or get critical goods people need to combat COVID-19, and we’re losing lives as a result. Twenty-five years of corporate-rigged trade policies have encouraged corporations to move production overseas in a never-ending race to exploit the cheapest labor and lowest environmental standards. The mass outsourcing of U.S. industrial capacity and loss of 40,000 U.S. manufacturing facilities since the mid-1990s now leaves us without basic goods needed to combat this pandemic.
How did this happen? Hundreds of corporate representatives who serve as official U.S. trade advisors pushed for trade and tax terms that reward relocating production overseas. Having the world’s largest trade deficit year after year means the U.S. is now extremely reliant on other countries, especially China, to provide essential goods. With many critical goods now mainly made in one or two countries, when workers there fall ill or governments prioritize their own people’s needs before exporting goods, a worldwide shortage of masks, medicine and more can quickly develop.
With policymakers and the public distracted, corporate lobbyists are pushing for more of the same trade policies that hatched the unreliable, hyperglobalized supply chains now failing us all. Instead, we must fundamentally Rethink Trade. The goals should be healthy, resilient communities and economic well-being for more people – not the current priority of maximizing corporate profits.