McNelis: ‘Little to no’ reason not to approve free-trade pact

Paul McNelis, S.J., Robert Bendheim Chair in Economic and Financial Policy

Paul McNelis, S.J., Robert Bendheim Chair in Economic and Financial Policy

Calling political and union opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact shortsighted, a Gabelli School of Business professor says there is “little to no” reason for the agreement not to be ratified by Congress.

Paul McNelis, S.J., the Robert Bendheim Chair in Economic and Financial Policy at Fordham, argues in a column published in America, the National Catholic Review, that current labor leaders who oppose the international free-trade pact are lacking the vision of legendary organizer John L. Lewis, who led the United Mine Workers and was the founder of the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

“Rather than opposing [free-trade agreements], perhaps these union leaders should follow [Lewis’] model and take advantage of the increased productivity that will be experienced by many industries entering into the global supply chain as opportunities for unions to bargain for greater education, retraining and pension benefits for the workforce of affected industries,” McNelis writes.

McNelis writes that higher tariffs and protectionist legislation will increase costs and lead to job losses. The global supply chain is here to stay, whether the TPP is signed or not.

“We are not going to somehow go back to a 1950s structure of production in which everything is made within a domestic market start to finish,” he writes.

McNelis framed his article around a joint letter signed by Catholic bishops in Europe and the United States in which they stated that the TPP and free trade needed to be beneficial to all and help to “reduce inequality or injustice.”

The professor said that call is “clearly right,” but he added that a globalized trading system has the ability to hold rogue companies more accountable.

Read the full article here.

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