Bill Richardson on Free Trade
Democratic Governor (NM); Secretary of Commerce-Designee
If China can fairly make shirts cheaper than Americans, we’ll need to make something we’re better at making. But if the Chinese shirt is cheaper only because their workers make sweatshop wages and the owners pour chemicals into local rivers, we can’t go along.
I’m not sure a lot of the advocates of free trade understand the difference between free & fair trade. All goods cost something to make, but it matters what gets calculated in the cost: whether it’s raw materials, or human rights, or the cost of defending oil transport routes, or damage to the environment.
In the real world, there is no such thing as completely free trade. All trade needs to have regulatory sideboards to prevent a cost-reduction competition via the exploitation of people and the environment.
There are few areas at which communism is more efficient than capitalism, but one is ruining the environment. It took the US capitalist free-market economy hundreds of years to achieve the same levels of environmental destruction that China, at its current pace, will achieve in about 20.
China’s economic officials predict that China will build another coal-based electric-generating unit every week for the next decade. Why would China decide, on its own, to use more expensive, climate-friendly, carbon-clean technologies? Especially when it sees the US refusing to adopt carbon limits and expanding its own carbon emissions every year?
We must find a way, not only to agree with China and India on the technologies, energy investments, and emissions limits that will create some future security for our climate, but also to assure them that they will have the energy they need.
A: We should never have another trade agreement unless it enforces labor protection, environmental standards and job safety. What we need to do is say that from now on, America will adhere to all international labor standards in any trade agreement--no child labor, no slave labor, freedom of association, collective bargaining--that is critically important--making sure that no wage disparity exists.
A: What I believe we need in this country is fair trade, not just unabashed free trade. What I would do is, first of all, any future international trade agreement should have the following components as part of the law, not as a side agreement.
That didn’t mean the absence of dislocation: while NAFTA figured to create more jobs in the US, some jobs would be lost. A key part of the final bill presented to Congress needed to include worker-adjustment programs and other so-called side agreements addressing such issues as labor standards and the environment.
I felt the treaty was crucial to Mexico. I thought NAFTA would create positive economic change and help to stimulate a broader political debate. I thought it also had the potential to affect the immigration issue: if Mexico’s economy boomed, beter-paying jobs would provide Mexicans an incentive to stay home.
Specifically, we have agreed to create a functional New Mexico-Chihuahua Economic Development Commission. The two of us will co-chair this commission that will include cabinet secretaries and business leaders from both states. We will meet monthly-and rotate between Santa Fe, and Chihuahua, and our respective border communities.
The purpose of this commission will be to increase trade. We will do this by developing, and implementing, a regional economic development plan with specific goals, timetables and assignments. The most important message I can deliver today is that we are one region.
Q: Do you support the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)?
Q: Do you support the WTO?
Q: Do you support imposing tariffs on products imported from nations that maintain restrictive trade barriers on American products?
Q: Should a nation’s human rights record affect its “most favored nation” trading status with the United States?
States' commitments under CAFTA:
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) compiled a list of the status of each of the 50 states with regards to CAFTA procurement. For states that have rescinded their commitment, we infer that the incumbent governor strongly opposes CAFTA (because the state made a commitment and then un-made it). For states that declined to commit, we infer that the incumbent governor somewhat opposes CAFTA. For states that committed, we infer that the incumbent governor supports CAFTA.
CAFTA is the Central American Free Trade Agreement. CAFTA expands NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement, between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico) to five Central American nations (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua), and the Dominican Republic. It passed Congress on July 27, 2005.
Opposition to CAFTA procurement rules (by Public Citizen): Should an international trade agreement determine how we are allowed to spend our domestic tax dollars? Prior to the passage of CAFTA, the majority of state governments agreed: Subjecting decisions about how to spend state taxpayer dollars to second-guessing by foreign trade tribunals is a bad idea! As a result, a bi-partisan group of governors withdrew their initial agreement to bind their states to comply with CAFTA's procurement rules. Many other governors simply avoided binding their states to CAFTA's procurement rules in the first place. Common state economic development and environmental policies are prohibited by trade agreement procurement rules include:
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