Those low-cost goods at Wal-Mart ultimately come at a high price: lost jobs, lower wages and unsupportable U.S. trade deficits.
Wal-Mart is the single largest importer of foreign-produced goods in the United States, and the majority of its private-label clothing is manufactured in at least 48 countries around the world—and almost none in the United States.
Wal-Mart’s biggest trading partner is China. The world’s largest retailer admits it bought some $18 billion in merchandise in 2004, from China, nearly 10 percent of all Chinese goods sold in this country that year. Through August 2005, the United States was running a $126 billion trade deficit with China.
Lost Jobs Through Importing Foreign-Made Goods
Such a huge trade deficit undercuts domestic manufacturing and destroys good U.S. jobs because the nation is importing, on a large scale, products that had been produced domestically.
U.S. Jobs Shipped Overseas
Between 1989 and 2003, the ever-increasing U.S. trade deficit with China has led to about 1.5 million jobs that either moved overseas or never were created in this country as production shifted to China, according to a report released Jan. 11, 2005, by the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), a congressionally appointed panel. The pace of job losses has picked up since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, with about one-third of the total, or 500,000, occurring in the past three years.
Lower Wages for U.S. Workers
By supporting foreign-made goods on such a massive scale, the company that trumpets its All-American image is creating incentives for corporations to destroy good jobs in the United States.
By purchasing such a large amount of goods produced in China, Wal-Mart indirectly supports continued workers’ rights abuses by Chinese authorities.
- A Washington Post report showed how Wal-Mart pits suppliers against one another and squeezes them for the lowest price. As a result, the report says factories respond with longer hours or lower pay. And the workers have no options because China forbids independent trade unions.
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