Free trade should be part of the U.S. stimulus plan

President-elect Barack Obama is focused on preparing a stimulus plan to "jolt" the American economy. Yet missing thus far is any mention of international trade as part of his plan.

  • Will the Democrats' promised review of NAFTA lead to a re-negotiation of trade relations with Mexico and Canada? American workers and businesses will best be able to compete with China and other developing countries in Asia if they have more regional economic integration in the Northern hemisphere, not less.

  • What about Democratic approval of the pending free-trade agreement with Panama? American workers and business could clearly benefit from their fair share of contracts for the pending $5 billion expansion of the Panama Canal.

  • What about Colombia? American workers and businesses would certainly profit from the proposed tariff cuts in that agreement that would result in $1 billion annually in new exports.

  • Will Democrats make the successful conclusion of the World Trade Organisation's Doha Development Round of global trade negotiations an immediate and high priority? Offers already on the table in the Doha Round would, over 10 years, create $120 billion annually in additional market access for developed and developing countries alike.

    These would all stimulate the American economy without adding a dime to the federal budget deficit.

    The last time Congress tried the protectionist approach during a time of economic crisis was in 1930, which deepened and prolonged the Great Depression. As we surely should have learned by now, we cannot hide from the rest of the world. Without these gains from trade, we will fall behind our global competitors, no matter what we do domestically to try to hasten America's recovery.

    Source: James Bacchus, Free Trade Should Be Part of the Stimulus Plan, Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2008.

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    For more on Trade Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 06 January 2009
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