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George W. Bush on Free Trade

President of the United States, Former Republican Governor (TX)


Fact Check: Free trade tempered by steel protectionism

FACTCHECK on Trade: In speaking of benefits of international trade, the President failed to mention his own steps to protect the politically important US steel industry.

BUSH: My Administration is promoting free and fair trade, to open up new markets for America 's entrepreneurs, and manufacturers, and farmers, and to create jobs for America 's workers.

FACTCHECK: Not mentioned: Bush's imposition of tariffs on imported steel, which pleased US labor unions and steel executives but which were found to violate World Trade Organization rules. Bush lifted the steel tariffs Dec. 4 after trading partners threatened retaliation against US exports.

Source: FactCheck.org on the 2004 State of the Union address Jan 20, 2004

Tariffs over free trade, for steel industry

On March 5, 2002, the President announced he would impose tariffs of up to 30% on imported steel in an effort to shore up the long-declining industry. Steel executives praised the President and said that the tariffs might save jobs. Free trade advocates wondered how other countries would respond and what the effect would be on the cost of a wide array of goods.
Source: The Price of Loyalty, by Ron Suskind, p.238 Jan 13, 2004

Repeals steel tariffs he imposed in 2002

The Bush administration has decided to repeal most of its 20-month-old tariffs on imported steel to head off a trade war. European countries and Japan had vowed to respond to the tariffs, which were ruled illegal by the WTO, by imposing sanctions on up to $2.2 billion in exports from the US, beginning as soon as Dec. 15.

Bush advisers said they were aware the reversal could produce a backlash against him in several steel-producing states of the Rust Belt-including PA, WV, & OH. That arc of states has been hit severely by losses in manufacturing jobs and will be among the most closely contested in his reelection race.

Bush decided in March 2002 to impose tariffs of 8% to 30% on most steel imports from abroad for three years. The decision was heavily influenced by the desire to help the Rust Belt states, but the departure from Bush's free-trade principles drew fierce criticism from his conservative supporters. After a blast of international opposition, the administration began approving exemptions.

Source: Mike Allen, Washington Post, p. A1 Dec 1, 2003

Don’t link trade to environment and labor

Source: The Economist, “Issues 2000” Sep 30, 2000

Sow free trade and farmers will reap

Q: What will you do as president to help farmers get sufficient pay for their work?
A: I would be a free trading president, a president that will work tirelessly to open up markets for agricultural products all over the world. I believe our American farmers. can compete so long as the playing field is level. That’s why I am such a strong advocate of free trade and that’s why I reject protectionism and isolation because I think it hurts our American farmers.
Source: Republican debate in West Columbia, South Carolina Jan 7, 2000

A free market promotes dreams and individuality

[After visiting China], I’ll never forget the contrast between what I learned about the free market at Harvard and what I saw in the closed isolation of China. Every bicycle looked the same. People’s clothes were all the same. a free market frees individuals to make distinct choices and independent decisions. The market gives individuals the opportunity to demand and decide, and entrepreneurs the opportunity to provide.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 61. Dec 9, 1999

Import fees are not the answer to foreign competition

In 1999, when a glut of foreign oil drove prices below $12 a barrel, many of my friends in the oil business wanted the government to rescue them through price supports. . . I understand the frustration of people. but I do not support import fees. . . I believe it makes sense to use the tax code to encourage activities that benefit America. But I do not want to put up fees or tariffs or roadblocks to trade.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 65-66. Dec 9, 1999

The fearful build walls; the confident demolish them.

I’ll work to end tariffs and break down barriers everywhere, entirely, so the whole world trades in freedom. The fearful build walls. The confident demolish them. I am confident in American workers and farmers and producers. And I am confident that America’s best is the best in the world.
Source: Candidacy Announcement speech, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Jun 12, 1999


George W. Bush on NAFTA + WTO

Establish Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005

We must affirm our commitment to complete negotiations on the free trade area of the Americans by January, 2005. Nothing we do [at the trade meeting] in Quebec will be more important or have a greater long-term impact. It will make our hemisphere the largest free trade area in the world, encompassing 34 countries and 800 million people.

There’s a vital link between freedom of people and freedom of commerce. Democratic freedoms cannot flourish unless our hemisphere also builds a prosperity whose benefits are widely shared. And open trade is an essential foundation for that prosperity and that possibility.

Open trade fuels the engines of economic growth that creates new jobs and new income. It applies the power of markets to the needs of the poor. It spurs the process of economic and legal reform. It helps dismantle protectionist bureaucracies that stifle incentive and invite corruption. And open trade reinforces the habits of liberty that sustain democracy over the long term.

Source: Remarks to the Organization of American States Apr 17, 2001

Add Chile, Brazil, Argentina, & others to NAFTA

Q: Would you pursue a hemispheric trade deal extending the benefits of NAFTA to Central and South America and the Caribbean?

A: My administration will foster democracy and level barriers to trade. If elected, my goal will be free trade agreements with all the nations of Latin America. We can do so in cooperation with our NAFTA partners. We should also do so with Chile, and Brazil and Argentina, the anchor states of Mercosur. We will also work toward free trade with the smaller nations of Central America and the Caribbean. We must be flexible because one-size-fits-all negotiations are not always the answer. But the ultimate goal will remain constant, free trade from northernmost Canada to the tip of Cape Horn. In the near term, we will renew trade preferences with the Andean nations - enacted in 1991, and set to expire next year.

Source: Associated Press Oct 31, 2000

No trade barriers from Alaska to the tip of Cape Horn

Bush went campaigning in Mexico today, dedicating the World Trade Bridge in Laredo. “In the past there have been walls of divide between Mexico and the US,” Bush said. “We must be committed to raise the bridges of trade & friendship & freedom.” Bush said the opening of the bridge was an example of the growing economic ties between the US and Mexico. In promising to push aggressively for free trade in this hemisphere, Bush said he would tear down trade barriers from Alaska to “the tip of the Cape Horn.”
Source: Jim Yardley, New York Times Apr 24, 2000

Fast Track in west; WTO in east

Bush said he would seek “fast-track” negotiating status from Congress to expand free trade in the Western Hemisphere: “I will work to create an entire hemisphere in free trade,” he said. “I will work to extend the benefits of NAFTA from the northernmost Alaska to the tip of Cape Horn.” He said he wanted to build on NAFTA to bring other countries throughout Latin America Meanwhile, the Bush campaign distributed a policy statement that said he supports admission of China and Taiwan to the WTO.
Source: Kelley Shannon, Associated Press, in L.A. Times Apr 24, 2000

Supports Fast Track; WTO; NAFTA; anti-dumping

Source: GeorgeWBush.com: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

Other candidates on Free Trade: George W. Bush on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka

Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
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Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts