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Howard Dean on Free Trade

Former VT Governor; Former Democratic Candidate for President


We ought to change NAFTA-globalization only halfway done

Q: What do you make of NAFTA?

A: We ought to change NAFTA. We've only done half the job with globalization. You've globalized the rights of big corporations to do business anywhere in the country, but what we now need to do is globalize the rights of workers, labor unions, environmentalists and human rights. If you do that, you raise the standard of living in other countries. And what happens is our jobs stop going away because the cost of production goes up.

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

Enforceable & enforced labor and environmental standards

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

A: I want strong, enforceable trade agreements and a trade system bound by clear, continually improving rules. I will push for solid, enforceable labor and environmental standards in all existing and future trade agreements. I will vigorously enforce the agreements we enter into and defend U.S. trade laws when our competitors challenge them.

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

We've globalized corporations; now globalize worker rights

Q: America's farmers need open markets for their crops around the world, but other American workers want a level playing field. How would you balance those interests?

DEAN: There's no reason we can't do both. NAFTA and the WTO only globalized the rights of multinational corporations, but they did not globalize the rights of workers. They are not going to globalize human rights, environmental rights, the right to organize. That needs to happen. And if it doesn't happen, NAFTA and the WTO simply aren't going to work. Right now, we're exporting jobs.

We need to have a level playing field. We need to have the same kinds of environmental protections, labor protections, human rights protections and worker protections if we're going to have open borders. That will not disadvantage exports.

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

Globalization is here to stay, but the rules can be changed

Q: What is your plan to stop the loss of jobs that come from free trade?

A: Globalization is here to stay whether we like it or not, but the rules for globalization are not. Both NAFTA and the WTO help large multinational corporations but ignore the needs for the people who work for them. In order to make globalization work we also have to globalize worker protection, labor rights, environmental rights and human rights. Free trade won't work under the present circumstances.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 6, 2003

I support NAFTA & WTO-but they need revision

Q [to Kerry]: You have accused Gov. Dean of playing on workers' fears and advocating protectionism and saying that under him it threatens to throw the economy into a tail spin. It that fair?

KERRY: Yes, it is fair, because Gov. Dean has said very specifically that we should not trade with countries until they have labor and environment standards that are equal to the US. That means we would trade with no countries. It is a policy for shutting the door. It's either a policy for shutting the door, if you believe it, or it's a policy of just telling people what they want to hear.

DEAN: I supported NAFTA, I supported the WTO. We benefited in Vermont from trade. But in the Midwest, our manufacturing jobs are hemorrhaging. We have to go back and revise every single trade agreement that we have to include labor standards, environmental standards & human rights standards. If we don't, the trade policy that we seek to help globalize and help workers around the country & the world is going to fail.

Source: [Xref Kerry] Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Support NAFTA & WTO with level labor standards

Q: Some of your colleagues on this stage have recently questioned your position on free trade. That is because at first you said that US labor standards should be the model for negotiating free trade, and then you changed that to international labor standards.

DEAN: My position on trade is pretty clear. I supported NAFTA, I supported the WTO. However, the problem is that these trade agreements are skewed toward multinational corporations. They benefit them, but they do not have equal protection for the people who work either in this country or elsewhere.

My position on labor standards [is that] eventually we have to have the same labor standards through every trade agreement. The place to start is international labor organization standards adhered to and enforced by every one of our trading partners, but ultimately we have to have exactly the same labor standards everywhere.

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

Free trade based on labor and environmental standards

I do not agree that we ought to get rid of NAFTA and the WTO. But you can't get into the European Union unless you have exactly the same labor and environmental and human rights standards that you do in all those countries. We ought not to be in the business of having free and open borders with countries that don't have the same environmental, labor and human rights standards. And if you do that, we're going to be able to create manufacturing jobs in America again and they'll stay in America.
Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Trade tariffs to enforce labor & enviro standards

Q: What about free trade?

A: We've gone the first mile. I don't disagree with the premise of the free traders. But we need an emerging middle class in these countries, and we're not getting one. So now is the time to have labor and environmental standards attached to trade agreements.

Q: What if they say no?

A: Then I'd say, "Fine, that's the end of free trade."

Q: What do you mean, that's the end of free trade? Then we slap tariffs on these countries?

A: Yes.

Q: So you'd be in favor of tariffs at that point.

A: If necessary. Look, Jimmy Carter did this in foreign policy. If you can't get people to observe human rights, and say that we're going to accept products from countries that have kids working no overtime, no time and a half, no reasonable safety precautions-- I don't think we ought to be buying those kinds of products in this country. We're enabling that to happen.

Source: Joe Klein Interview, John F. Kennedy Library and Foundation Mar 26, 2003

Free trade is in our long-term national security interest

I still think NAFTA was a good thing. But 10 years into NAFTA, we have shipped a lot of our industrial capacity to other countries.

The reason for NAFTA is not just trade. It's defense and foreign policy. A middle class country where women fully participate in the economic and political decision making of that country is a country that doesn't harbor groups like Al-Qaeda, and it's a country that does not go to war. So that's why trade is really in our long term interest. So far NAFTA has transferred industrial capacity, but we haven't transferred any of the elements that are needed to make a middle class.

The trade union movement built America because they allowed people who worked in factories and mines to become middle class. America is the strongest country on earth because we have the largest middle class on earth, with democratic ideals. Working people in this country feel that this is their country, and they have a piece of the pie, and it matters what they think.

Source: Joe Klein interview at Kennedy Library Foundation Mar 26, 2003

WTO should care about human rights

Human rights was among the chief concerns surrounding China's entrance into the World Trade Organization in Dec. 2001. The WTO is going to have to care about more than just economic transactions. They're going to have to care about human rights.
Source: Ken Thomas, Associated Press, in Naples Daily News Feb 26, 2003

Free trade must equal fair trade

Free trade is good; jobs that create exports pay Americans 16% higher wages than jobs that don't create exports. We can help other countries, even those that are not now democracies, become more democratic through trade.

Unfortunately, our free trade policies have also had the effect of hollowing out our industrial capacity, and most worrisome, undermining our own middle class. All through this country, including in Vermont, I've seen factories move to China and Mexico, leaving American workers to learn new skills & earn lower wages.

Free trade must equal fair trade. We are subsidizing the sometimes awful environmental practices of our trading partners, and we are subsidizing the profits of multinational corporations by not having international labor standards. If free trade allows General Motors to set up a plant in Mexico, free trade should allow the UAW to organize that plant under conditions similar to those in the US. This isn't wage parity; I am asking for shared ground rules.

Source: Campaign web site, DeanForAmerica.com, "On the Issues" Nov 30, 2002


Howard Dean on China

We need China trade as a national security issue

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

Use trade as basis for constructive engagement

The Chinese fighter incident with one of our spy planes was over in 10 days was because the Chinese knew very well that they had hundreds of billions of dollars worth of trade with America at stake, should that become a major diplomatic incident, and it did not become one. Constructive engagement works.
Source: Joe Klein interview at Kennedy Library Foundation Mar 26, 2003

Use trade to enforce morality on China

Q: [What about trade with China?]

A: We already have trade in the door. Countries aren't going to say, "No, too bad for you. Go ahead and put up tariffs" -- they're already in the door. I don't think my support of NAFTA 10 years ago was a bad thing. We've got them in the door. They're already seeing the benefits of trade. Now we're going to say to them, "Okay, now is the time that workers' rights and environmental rights matter. You have a choice. You can go back to the way it was if you want to." I don't think there are many governments that are going to take us up on that.

Q: So we can tell China to control environmental problems?

A: We're not telling China to control environmental problems. What we're saying is, if you want to do business with us, we do have some morals, and we intend to enforce our view of the world.

Source: Joe Klein interview at Kennedy Library Foundation Mar 26, 2003

Develop an open North American energy market.

Dean signed the New England Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: NEG/ECP Resolution 25-12: Energy / NICE 00-NEGC12 on Jul 18, 2000

Foster globalization with New England & Eastern Canada.

Dean signed the New England Governors' Conference resolution:

  • WHEREAS, a successful Knowledge Industry Innovatorsí Forum resulted in the identification of issues critical to the continued development of a knowledge economy in the Northeast; and
  • WHEREAS, the Governorís Conference is desirous of working together, in cooperation with the business community, to promote economic growth, facilitate trade flows across borders, and identify future opportunities for trade development;
  • NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers adopt the [work plan summarized here]:
    1. Continue to focus on the development of strategies and initiatives that Premiers and Governors can undertake to grow the Northeast regionís knowledge economy.
    2. Monitor and discuss national and international trade policy, including NAFTA, WTO, and discussions regarding a free trade agreement of the Americas.
    3. Identification of border crossing impediments and strategies for addressing; including cross-border re-location of professionals, and businesses wishing to conduct business in both countries.
    4. Assess opportunities and challenges facing the Northeast energy sector.
  • BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Standing Committee on Trade and Globalization seek appropriate resources to undertake a trade and infrastructure study for the region; and
  • BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that [we commit to] continue working with innovators to profile the regionís knowledge economy sector, identify key public and private sector institutions in order to encourage the development of a strong, representative, regional network to assist Governors and Premiers in facilitating the continued development of a knowledge economy in the Northeast.
    Source: NEG/ECP Resolution 26-5: Trade & Globalization 01-NEGC5 on Aug 28, 2001

    More business cooperation between New England & East Canada.

    Dean signed the New England Governors' Conference resolution:

    Source: NEG/ECP Resolution 23-7: Economic Cooperation 98-NEGC7 on Jun 9, 1998

    Other candidates on Free Trade: Howard Dean on other issues:
    George W. Bush
    Dick Cheney

    Republican Possibilities:
    George Allen
    Jeb Bush
    Bill Frist
    Rudy Giuliani
    John McCain
    Mitt Romney

    Democratic Possibilities:
    Evan Bayh
    Hillary Clinton
    Howard Dean
    John Edwards
    Russ Feingold
    Al Gore
    John Kerry
    Joe Lieberman
    Al Sharpton
    Mark Warner

    Third Party Possibilities:
    Ralph Nader
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    Budget/Economy
    Civil Rights
    Corporations
    Crime
    Drugs
    Education
    Energy/Oil
    Environment
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    Foreign Policy
    Free Trade
    Govt. Reform
    Gun Control
    Health Care
    Homeland Security
    Immigration
    Infrastructure/Technology
    Jobs
    Principles/Values
    Social Security
    Tax Reform
    War/Iraq/Mideast
    Welfare/Poverty
    Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts