Trade Agreements & Jobs

A few weeks ago I treated myself to a massage. As we got to know each other, my masseuse – let’s call her “Mary” — shared that 5 years before she had transitioned from an IT position with a major US corporation located, at that time, in Maryland. After working 14 years with the company, she was made redundant when the company was acquired and moved its operations – to Boston, Massachusetts, U.S A.

“Mary” didn’t lose her job because of a trade agreement, or outsourcing. She lost her job because she was viewed as expendable by a corporation to which she had given 14 years.

Trade agreements are about making it easier to buy and sell goods and services globally. They remove or ease countries’ barriers to trade – import duties, regulations, etc. The rules are often skewed in favor of the richer, more powerful countries. And they are too often shaped by the interests of the powerful corporations at the table that can disenfranchise the poor, wherever they are located.

Trade agreements do make it easier for corporations to export their cultures and values to other countries. The down sides can include a stronger focus on corporate profit over community good. There are potential upsides as well – greater transparency and efficiencies. So, yes, trade agreements can be a mixed bag.

However, when it comes to jobs don’t blame trade or trade agreements. A company that is already pre-disposed to treating its employees as expendable will pack up and move with minimal regard for their years of service or their future with or without these agreements. Blame a corporate culture that says – it’s okay!

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