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Foreign Trade Competition Has Hurt Black and Disadvantaged Workers Most, Report Says

November 15, 2022 | By: Ana Swanson | The New York Times

A government trade agency report suggested that the impact of trade policy differed for workers depending on their race and socioeconomic status.

Offshoring to countries like China has led to economic disruptions in the United States that have had more dramatic effects on people of color, the report said. Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

WASHINGTON — People of color have been disproportionately hurt by the economic disruptions caused by global trade, as a trend toward offshoring and globalization in recent decades prompted U.S. factories to relocate abroad, according to a newly released report from a government trade agency.

The report, issued on Monday by the U.S. International Trade Commission gathers academic literature and worker testimonies to show that workers who are not white have fared worse than their counterparts in the face of so-called trade shocks, such as China’s integration with the global marketplace, which eliminated jobs and lowered wages for some American workers.

The report, which was compiled at the request of Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, is the latest sign of shifting views in Washington toward the pursuit of what are commonly referred to as free-trade policies. Many politicians on the right and the left have backed away from policies that pushed aggressively toward more open global markets, viewing them as economically damaging to workers at home.

Trade officials in the Biden administration, like those in the Trump administration, have increasingly highlighted the downsides of trade deals that made it easier for offshore factories to compete with American producers and that flooded U.S. markets with inexpensive foreign goods.

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