POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Obama Administration to Pursue Job-Destroying Trade Deals

by David Trumbull

May 1, 2009

In remarks delivered April 23, 2009, at the Georgetown University Law Center, President Obama's top man for trade, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, acknowledged that the America people have no confidence in trade policy as it has been conducted over the last few years, saying "To many Americans, U.S. trade policy has lacked rhyme or reason." He further acknowledged that, "Many people have felt that enforcement was being neglected, and that our trading partners have been running roughshod over us, pulling good jobs overseas." However when he turned to the free trade agreements negotiated by the Bush Administration but not approved by Congress, he committed to seek the enactment of the U.S.-Panama FTA and "a way forward [to enactment] on the Colombia and Korea FTAs as well."

He also said that, as was the former administration, "President Obama and I are committed to a successful conclusion of Doha." The Doha Development Agenda was launched in Doha, Qatar in November 2001, at the Fourth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference. Under the framework already accepted by the U.S. and other WTO members the completion of the Doha round will likely result in U.S. manufacturing tariffs being forced to undergo drastic cuts, most likely 75% or more, while major exporters such as China and India will likely undergo much smaller cuts in their tariffs since the WTO allows them to be designated as Developing Countries. Doha will also likely result in the erosion of key preference programs intended to assist the poorest the nations and our allies. One such preference program not now in effect but supported by President Obama is a proposal for Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The ROZ proposal is yet another Bush-era policy that the Obama Administration has endorsed.

Kirk also spoke of the Administration's desire "to strike new trade deals...bigger ones..."

As a candidate Senator Obama was critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed into law by his Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton in 1993. Now as President and with a quarter of a century record of American job losses due to NAFTA and similar trade pacts Mr. Obama offers us more of the same failed job-destroying policy. According to the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, in the period from January 2001 through December 2006 Massachusetts lost 146,800 non-farm jobs, for a net decline of 4.4%. That places the Bay State third in the nation both in number and percentage of jobs lost during that period. Candidate Obama promised change, but on the issue that most matters to working men and women of America JOBS he fails to deliver.

[David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]