We will be watching a PBS/ Frontline production that investigates the question is “Walmart Good for America?(2004)” However, this question can be applied to other countries around the world as Walmart expands its operations.
Free trade agreements, such as the one signed by the U.S. and China in 2000 and referred to in the documentary, allows for goods and services to move freely between countries with minimal or no barriers to trade. This has allowed corporations around the world, including Walmart, to take advantage of cheap labor, lax environmental, health and safety standards in order to produce goods cheaper than what many countries can produce. But free trade also has many benefits! Watch the film and evaluate the idea of free trade.
I should also mention that I know that this video is a bit dated. This is by design as we will look at how free trade over time has changed the economies discussed in the film. We will look at Walmart, China and the U.S., where they were in 2004 versus where they stand today due to the forces of free trade.
As you watch the film consider the following questions:
1) What was the reasoning behind why the U.S. would sign a free trade agreement with China?
2) What were the consequences of the free trade agreement for the U.S.? Explain.
3) Who has benefited from the free trade agreement? Explain.
4) Read the linked article. Why would a country like India be weary of allowing Walmart into its country? What benefits could Walmart however, bring to India?
After watching the documentary and answering the questions above watch the following two videos to see what has happened to China and the United States over the last couple of years (2012/13)
5) What has started to happen in China? Why. Draw a diagram to support. How are the implications of this happening?
6) What has started to happen to manufacturing in the United States? Explain. Draw two diagrams to support you claims.
Extension: To truly understand what is happening to the U.S. economy read this interesting article from TIME Magazine, “Made In the USA,” is Making a Comeback.
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