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Dennis Kucinich on Free Trade

Democratic Representative (OH-10); Democratic Candidate for President


Withdraw from WTO because they disallow protecting jobs

Q: Cancel or renegotiate?

KUCINICH: NAFTA and the WTO must be canceled. Let me tell you why. The WTO doesn't permit any alterations. When we, as members of Congress, sought from the administration a Section 201 procedure to stop the dumping of steel into our markets so we could stop our American steel jobs from being crushed, the World Trade Organization ruled against the United States and said we had no right to do that. Now, the World Trade Organization, as long as we belong to it, will not let us protect the jobs. This is the reason why we have outsourcing going on right now. We can't tax it. We can't put tariffs on it. In order to protect jobs in this country and to be able to create a enforceable structure for trade, we need to get out of NAFTA, get out of the WTO.

Q: And you can do that by edict?

KUCINICH: The president has the power to withdraw from both NAFTA and the WTO upon a six-months notice. And I would exercise that authority to help save American jobs.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC Feb 26, 2004

Americans' social consciousness overrides cheap goods

Q: People have gotten used to the idea of not paying as much for shoes or clothing or any other number of items because they are manufactured offshore. Do you agree?

A: That presumes that people of this country do not have a social consciousness. I believe they do. That's why we've lost hundreds of textile plants in this country. That's why our steel, automotive, aerospace, shipping and textile industries are in such severe trouble. My first act in office will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC Jan 29, 2004

Free trade encourages privatization, so avoid it

Q: Should the US seek more free or liberalized trade agreements?

A: No, and my first act in office will be to repeal the existing ones. NAFTA has spurred a $418 billion trade deficit, costing 525,000 jobs, most of them in manufacturing. The World Trade Organization forced our president to lift steel tariffs, which will cost us more good jobs and hurt consumers. The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas would encourage the privatization of municipal services, including water.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "Trade" Jan 25, 2004

Bilateral trade structure to support American manufacturing

Q: If we withdraw from NAFTA and the WTO, under a bilateral trade situation, how do you force progressive trade conditions?

KUCINICH: 22,000 jobs lost in N.H. can be directly traced to NAFTA and the WTO, good paying jobs in this state that were lost. [Nationwide, we lost] 3 million American manufacturing jobs because of NAFTA and the WTO. As president, I intend to have a trade structure which supports manufacturing in this country-steel, automotive, aerospace, textiles, shipping. I intend to have a manufacturing policy which stops the hemorrhaging not only of manufacturing jobs, but high-tech jobs as well. As president, my first act in office will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO and return to bilateral trade conditioned on workers' rights, human rights and environmental quality principles. I wish that every candidate on this stage would join me in saying that you would agree to cancel NAFTA and the WTO, in light of what it's cost New Hampshire.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

President has authority to cancel NAFTA and WTO-I will

KUCINICH: I will cancel NAFTA and the WTO. We've lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs in this country. The president has the authority and power to cancel NAFTA and the WTO. Will you, Governor Dean?

DEAN: I did not vote for NAFTA or the WTO, because I have never served in Congress. But I did support China's entry into the WTO in 1999 because I believed it was an issue for national security. I believe in constructive engagement. That doesn't mean these agreements don't need to be changed. We have stood up for multinational corporations in these agreements, but we have not stood up for workers' rights, environmental rights and human rights. And until we do, trade doesn't work.

GEPHARDT: Look, Howard, you were for NAFTA. You came to the signing ceremony. You were for the China agreement. It's one thing to talk the talk, it's another thing to walk the walk. We've got to get labor and environment in these treaties, when the treaties are before the Congress. That's when it counts.

Source: Democratic 2004 Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa Jan 4, 2004

Push trade deals based on power of US market leverage

Q: If the US withdraws from the WTO but no one else does, won't the US still have to negotiate with the WTO? Won't withdrawing from the WTO cause the loss of MORE American jobs?

A: The US is not a beggar in international trade relations. The US is the world's number one consumer market. The world wants to sell to American consumers. That ought to represent leverage. But the US gave up its leverage when it joined the WTO. Withdrawal from the WTO will enable the US to reclaim its leverage. With this leverage, we will ask of our trading partners to buy from us approximately an equivalent amount of what we buy from them-the principle of correspondence. We can also promote workplace, human and environmental rights from around the world by simply telling our trading partners that we are not interested in buying their products when they are made with child labor, or are made in factories which show no regard for environmental protection.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 4, 2003

Against China MFN because of $100B trade deficit

Q: Would you today revoke China's most favorite nation trading status?

KUCINICH: I was not in favor of it. I voted against most favored nation status for China for a number of reasons. First of all, we have to keep in mind that there has to be some correspondence in trade. There has to be some relationship between what a country sells in America and what it buys from America.

There has to be some reciprocity. We have $100 billion trade deficit with China, and we have an overall trade deficit of $435 billion. [We should] challenge the underlying structure of our trade, or what does it mean? $435 billion deficit. We need to cancel NAFTA, cancel the WTO, which makes any changes in NAFTA "WTO-illegal." We need to go back to bilateral trade that's conditioned on workers' rights, human rights and the environment.

Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

First act as president will be to cancel NAFTA

We have to do everything we can to secure our manufacturing base, and that means giving a critical examination to those trade agreements that have caused a loss of hundreds of thousands, in some cases millions of jobs, in this economy. As president of the United States, my first act in office, therefore, will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO and return to bilateral trade, conditioned on workers' rights, human rights and the environment.

NAFTA makes it impossible to be able to protect workers' rights. Now, those people say they're going to put conditions on NAFTA. If you put conditions on NAFTA, that's WTO illegal. Unless we cancel NAFTA and withdraw from the WTO, we aren't going to [improve the economy]. I'm the one, first day in office, cancel NAFTA, cancel the WTO, return to bilateral trade with all those conditions we've just spoken about.

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Need specific worker rights written into trade agreements

The only way that we can go back to trade which will work for the American people and for people all over North America is to make sure that we have workers' rights, human rights and environmental quality principles in trade. And by workers' right I mean this: Those have to be written specifically into our trade agreements and they were not. We had intellectual property written into the trade agreements. And we need specifically written into the trade agreements prohibitions on child labor, slave labor, prison labor.

But unless we cancel NAFTA and withdraw from the WTO, we aren't going to get there. So all of this is just talk. I'm the one, first day in office, cancel NAFTA, cancel the WTO, return to bilateral trade with all those conditions we've just spoken about.

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Companies profit from trade based on Third World misery

Q: If we follow your advice and start to pull out of some of NAFTA and the WTO, won't the price of everything in Wal-Mart and Kmart go up?

KUCINICH: The real question is what kind of profits do the Kmarts and the Wal-Marts of the world make?

Q: Well, Kmart, not too much.

KUCINICH: But on the misery of those people in Third World countries who are working for pennies an hour and are finding themselves unable to support their own families.

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Review & modify all treaties not respecting human rights

Our country and all nations must review and modify all treaties which reject national sovereignty in the cause of a global corporate ethic which does not respect human rights, workers rights and environmental quality standards. This means reviewing the practices and the practical impact of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, "On The Issues" Aug 1, 2003

No NAFTA, No WTO, No Fast Track

The restoration of the rights of workers in America and throughout the North American continent will begin when we repeal NAFTA. NAFTA has spurred a $360 billion trade deficit, costing 363,000 high-paying jobs, most in manufacturing. This is called free trade. NAFTA has attacked federal laws meant to protect worker rights, human rights and environmental quality principles. No NAFTA, no Fast Track. I oppose fast track to protect democracy and to protect American jobs.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, "On The Issues" Aug 1, 2003

Cancel NAFTA and the WTO

It's easy to talk about having a level playing field in trade. The problem is that we've lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs. In Ohio, steel has been devastated. Here in South Carolina, textiles have been devastated.

I think it's time, not just to move around the edges of this issue, it's time to cancel NAFTA and the WTO and return to a trading system that's conditioned on workers' rights, human rights and the environment.

Otherwise, workers are undermined at the bargaining table, jobs are going south and out of the county and off of this continent. We're losing control of our own destiny with a $500 billion trade deficit and with rising unemployment. And I think that a core problem here is our trade policy. It's time to get rid of NAFTA and the WTO.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Don't sacrifice our rights to global corporate ethic

Our country and all nations must review and modify all treaties which reject national sovereignty in the cause of a global corporate ethic which does not respect human rights, workers rights and environmental quality standards. This means reviewing the practices and the practical impact of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.org, "On The Issues" Apr 1, 2003

Retaliatory tariffs yes; GATT no

Source: 1996 Congressional National Political Awareness Test Jul 2, 1996

Voted NO on implementing the US-Singapore free trade agreement.

Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the United States and Singapore. The trade agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the United States and Singapore. The agreement would remove tariffs on goods and duties on textiles, and open markets for services The agreement would also establish intellectual property, environmental and labor standards.
Reference: US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement; Bill HR 2739 ; vote number 2003-432 on Jul 24, 2003

Voted NO on implementing free trade agreement with Chile.

United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act: Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the US and Chile. The agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the US and Chile. The trade pact would decrease duties and tariffs on agricultural and textile products. It would also open markets for services. The trade pact would establish intellectual property safeguards and would call for enforcement of environmental and labor standards.
Reference: Bill sponsored by DeLay, R-TX; Bill HR 2738 ; vote number 2003-436 on Jul 24, 2003

Voted YES on withdrawing from the WTO.

Vote on withdrawing Congressional approval from the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization [WTO].
Reference: Resolution sponsored by Paul, R-TX; Bill H J Res 90 ; vote number 2000-310 on Jun 21, 2000

Voted NO on 'Fast Track' authority for trade agreements.

Vote to establish negotiating objectives for trade agreements between the United States and foreign countries and renew 'fast track' authority for the President.
Reference: Bill introduced by Archer, R-TX.; Bill HR 2621 ; vote number 1998-466 on Sep 25, 1998

Maintain anti-dumping restrictions against foreign importers.

Kucinich sponsored a Congressional Resolution to maintain current WTO rules:

Title: Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States Trade Representative should oppose any changes that weaken existing antidumping and safeguard laws at the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations.

    Summary: Expresses the sense of Congress that:

  1. renegotiation by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) of existing antidumping and safeguard provisions contained in the GATT Antidumping Agreement is unnecessary and unlikely to result in an agreement that does not weaken the antidumping and safeguard provisions; and

  2. the United States Trade Representative should oppose any changes to such provisions contained in the Antidumping Agreement at the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the WTO to be held at Doha, Qatar, from November 9-13, 2001, and at any subsequent negotiations

  3. The Tarde Representative should oppose any changes that make antidumping relief under these provisions more difficult, uncertain, or costly for domestic industries to achieve and maintain over time.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HCR256 on Oct 30, 2001

Rated 39% by CATO, indicating a mixed record on trade issues.

Kucinich scores 39% by CATO on senior issues

The mission of the Cato Institute Center for Trade Policy Studies is to increase public understanding of the benefits of free trade and the costs of protectionism.

The Cato Trade Center focuses not only on U.S. protectionism, but also on trade barriers around the world. Cato scholars examine how the negotiation of multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade agreements can reduce trade barriers and provide institutional support for open markets. Not all trade agreements, however, lead to genuine liberalization. In this regard, Trade Center studies scrutinize whether purportedly market-opening accords actually seek to dictate marketplace results, or increase bureaucratic interference in the economy as a condition of market access.

Studies by Cato Trade Center scholars show that the United States is most effective in encouraging open markets abroad when it leads by example. The relative openness and consequent strength of the U.S. economy already lend powerful support to the worldwide trend toward embracing open markets. Consistent adherence by the United States to free trade principles would give this trend even greater momentum. Thus, Cato scholars have found that unilateral liberalization supports rather than undermines productive trade negotiations.

Scholars at the Cato Trade Center aim at nothing less than changing the terms of the trade policy debate: away from the current mercantilist preoccupation with trade balances, and toward a recognition that open markets are their own reward.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: CATO website 02n-CATO on Dec 31, 2002

No MFN for China; condition trade on human rights.

Kucinich adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:

The Progressive Caucus opposes awarding China permanent Most Favored Nation trading status at this time. We believe that it would be a serious setback for the protection and expansion of worker rights, human rights and religious rights. We also believe it will harm the US economy. We favor continuing to review on an annual basis China’s trading status, and we believe it is both legal and consistent with US WTO obligations to do so. The Progressive Caucus believes that trade relations with the US should be conditioned on the protection of worker rights, human rights and religious rights. If Congress gives China permanent MFN status, the US will lose the best leverage we have to influence China to enact those rights and protections. At the current time, the US buys about 40% of China’s exports, making it a consumer with a lot of potential clout. So long as the US annually continues to review China’s trade status, we have the ability to debate achievement of basic worker and human rights and to condition access to the US market on the achievement of gains in worker and human rights, if necessary. But once China is given permanent MFN, it permanently receives unconditional access to the US market and we lose that leverage. China will be free to attract multinational capital on the promise of super low wages, unsafe workplace conditions and prison labor and permanent access to the US market.

Furthermore, giving China permanent MFN will be harmful to the US economy, since the record trade deficit with China (and attendant problems such as loss of US jobs, and lower average wages in the US) will worsen. For 1999, the trade deficit is likely to be nearly $70 billion. Once China is awarded permanent MFN and WTO membership, the trade deficit will worsen.

Source: CPC Position Paper: Trade With China 99-CPC1 on Nov 11, 1999

Other candidates on Free Trade: Dennis Kucinich on other issues:
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Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts