7 ways the world has changed since NAFTA

Growing up in Asia in the 1980s, the daughter of a U.S. foreign service officer, everyone I met wanted a U.S. visa. I could relate. The U.S. meant opportunity, creativity, and freedom. As a result, we coveted American products. You could literally taste the American Dream in a McDonald’s Big Mac. And while I loved China and Taiwan, where my mother is from, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on American goods (Madonna cassettes, neon jelly bracelets, paint splatter leggings — it was the 80’s after all).

In 2003, my sister and I started Hello!Lucky, a business that makes high-quality, hand-crafted letterpress greeting cards. In the last 12 years, we’ve done more than $10M in cumulative sales, opened an office in London, and begun exporting. With Egg Press, our business partner, we employ 26 people and are growing 60% year-over-year.

“NAFTA on steroids.” That’s been the rallying cry of critics of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the trade agreement being debated by Congress. TPP would cut or eliminate tariffs and quotas and set high labor and environmental and labor standards across the twelve countries around the Pacific. Critics claim it will destroy U.S. jobs by opening high-wage U.S. workers to low-wage foreign competition. They say NAFTA, which removed similar barriers in North America, look like “child’s play.”

Free trade is getting flamed. And why? Because of a trade agreement that happened in 1994, when a smart phone looked like brick.

IBM Simon Personal Communicator, the smart phone of 1994, via Global Grind

IBM Simon Personal Communicator, the smart phone of 1994, via Global Grind

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