This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the first of what would eventually become 50 major trade agreements. Some were made in this decade alone, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Many, though, were signed more than 50 years ago, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Partnership.
“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the first of what would eventually become 50 major trade agreements,” reads the new Smithsonian post on the subject. “These agreements established the world’s largest free-trade blocs on two continents and established a free-trade zone in Asia that reaches to places as far as Antarctica.”
The post is by historian Martin Kettle, who writes that he began his research for the post in 1992 and began publishing in 2000. At the time of his article, he says the United States and Canada only had a total of 31 major trade agreements in operation.
The current U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, is the author of three trade agreements that remain unsigned after his term expires in 2019.
The U.S. government has never acknowledged the existence of these deals, and Kettle estimates they haven’t even been signed by those presidents currently in power — George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Some, including many of the country’s current governors, have been skeptical of the agreements, despite the vast benefits they brought. According to the Post:
U.S. governors have been especially critical. At a dinner for governors at the United States Trade Representative’s headquarters in Washington in January, Kansas’ Sam Brownback called the trade bills “very harmful for the small business people my state represents, who are being hit the hardest.” “One has to get on board with a trade deal before you will sign it,” he said. California’s Jerry Brown said that when he negotiated with Barack Obama on a pending trade pact for small businesses, he asked, “Is it still a liberal dream?”
“The current administration has been very quick to sign agreements, but they’re signed and then they can move on to the next step,” California Gov. Jerry Brown says during a trade event in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22, 2017 (Photo: Susan Walsh, AP)
There are plenty of other trade agreements that still haven’t been struck, according to Kettle. Some are still being debated, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership,
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