Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, while waffling, has wanted to appear to many of his constituents as being opposed to free trade agreements, or at least wanting to renegotiate the terms of many of them.
On Wednesday, the Department of Commerce issued a press release, the kind of thing you would hope business journalists get in their e-mail boxes. But I found no coverage of this news in a Google News Search on [commerce "free trade'] (typed as indicated inside brackets).
Perhaps it's because the news would be inconvenient for Obama, who is in the midst of an Excellent Overseas Adventure, speaking to fawning crowds who fortunately will have no say at the ballot box in November.
U.S. Manufacturing Exports Swing from Deficit to Surplus with Free Trade Agreement Countries
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez announced new U.S. Commerce Department data showing that the United States is running a trade surplus in manufactured exports with our 14 free trade agreement (FTA) partners. In the first five months of 2008, the trade balance in manufactured goods rose to a $2.7 billion surplus with our FTA partners from a $12.3 billion deficit during the same period last year. The U.S. manufactured goods trade balance improved 122 percent with our FTA partners, but only six percent with non-FTA partners in the first five months of 2008.
..... This improvement in the trade balance is due to the increasing competitiveness of U.S. manufactured goods. Since 2002, FTAs have helped U.S. manufactured exports grow steadily and at a faster rate than imports — 63 percent compared to only 42 percent, respectively, year-to-date through May 2008 (compared to same period of 2002).
A look at the Fact Sheet (PDF) accompanying the release shows that the year-to-date 2008 surplus contrasts with deficits that occurred in the previous six years:
Somewhat but not directly related to the news just mentioned, the "Across the Pond" Blog has very recently posted this take on Obama's current Excellent Overseas Adventure and how free trade has scarcely come up (bold is mine):
..... Obama's skeptical view of free trade is surely his least popular position among top European officials, and Obama bringing it up would have highlighted differences that could distract from some of the glossy photos.
..... Here, so far as I can discern, is all he's said, which he uttered at the Column speech: "Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all."
..... while John McCain's more welcoming attitude toward free trade might not do him favors in the U.S., and while George Bush's policies in general are wildly unpopular, this is one of the few areas where the GOP president and his party's 2008 candidate are more in tune with Europe than Obama.
Maybe that's why items like the trade-surplus situation with CAFTA and NAFTA partners isn't news. It distracts from the faux coronation.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.