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John Edwards on Free Trade

Democratic Nominee for Vice President; NC Jr Senator


Renegotiate NAFTA rather than cancel it

EDWARDS [to Sharpton]: The Chile trade agreement and the Singapore agreement have very strong enforcement mechanisms. I would use the Free Trade of the Americas agreement as a vehicle for renegotiating NAFTA.

SHARPTON: I want to cancel it.

EDWARDS: I think we do need to renegotiate it. The problem with NAFTA is these side agreements don't work. You have to put these labor/environmental protections in the text of the agreement.

Q: Will that be enough?

SHARPTON: No, I don't think so. This cost jobs for Americans. And it is unequivocal evidence that it costs Americans jobs. People were unemployed. It also went below labor and human rights standards abroad. We need to cancel NAFTA unequivocally. We need to have standards that we would not deal with nations that would put laborers in those kinds of situations. We cannot protect American corporations and call that patriotic and not protect American workers and call that protections.

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

Require labor and environmental standards plus right-to-know

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

A: I believe we need trade that works for America and the world, and have outlined a new approach to trade agreements that will protect American jobs and require labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. My approach would also establish an international 'right to know,' so that consumers know if corporations have moved jobs overseas or engage in abusive environmental and labor standards. I would also take aggressive measures to make sure foreign markets are open to US goods and include strong environmental and labor standards in all trade deals.

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

Against NAFTA, against Chile trade, against Singapore trade

GEPHARDT: I got a trade treaty with Jordan that really paid attention to labor & environmental rights. The Gephardt amendment is in law in the country, and it got markets open, like in Japan, where we've had to face unfair trade practices. Now, everybody up here, except Kucinich, voted for NAFTA and voted for the China agreement. They did the wrong thing. We need to bring up conditions in these other countries so that we work toward a global marketplace that works for everybody. You can't do that if you give in to bad trade deals, like most of these candidates did.

EDWARDS: I didn't vote for NAFTA. I campaigned against NAFTA. I voted against the Chilean trade agreement, against the Caribbean trade agreement, against the Singapore trade agreement, against final passage of fast track for this president. Gephardt has sent out mailings attacking and identifying all of us and putting us in the same category.

GEPHARDT: Well, you weren't in Congress when NAFTA came up. But you voted for China.

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

Level the playing field for American workers

Q: How do you intend to boost the manufacturing base?

A: We have lost over 3 million private sector jobs under President Bush. Two and a half million of those are manufacturing jobs. In order to protect the jobs we have I would do the following.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 7, 2003

I supported steel tariffs, but now ease off

Q: Bush imposed tariffs on imported steel last year and is now considering rolling back those tariffs.

EDWARDS: I supported the tariffs as the time. I think they were important, given the surge of steel that had come into the US. I think it was the right thing to do. I supported it at the time. We've just gotten a new report, which we're examining right now. My initial reaction is it may be time to ease off on the tariffs. It may actually be the right thing to do, given the result of the report.

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

National venture capital fund for those hurt by trade

You know, the president goes around the country speaking Spanish. The only Spanish he speaks when it comes to jobs is, "Hasta la vista." Here's what I would do as president. I would make sure in our trade agreements that we had real environmental protections, real labor protections, prohibitions against child labor and forced labor, so that we give our workers a better chance to compete.

But it's not enough to just protect the jobs that we have. We have to create jobs, and particularly in those communities where the job loss has been greatest. First, I would stop these tax loopholes that give American businesses a reason to go overseas. Instead, we ought to give tax breaks to companies that'll keep jobs right here in America. Then I would identify those places in America that have been hit the hardest, particularly by trade, and create a national venture capital fund for businesses that will locate there, give tax incentives to existing business and industry that will come there.

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

Against Fast Track--not enough for US workers

In 2002, Edwards voted against giving President Bush fast-track trade authority, after several provisions he supported to help workers and the textile industry were dropped from the final bill. Edwards worked to include amendments about negotiating textile deals with foreign countries, aid to displaced textile workers hurt by the trade deals, and increased financing for community college retraining programs. When these provisions were taken out of the final bill, Edwards voted against it.
Source: Campaign website, johnedwards2004.com, "Key Issues" Jul 17, 2003

Voted NO on establishing a free trade agreement between US & Singapore.

Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the US and Singapore. The trade agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the US 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 Implementation Act; Bill S.1417/HR 2739 ; vote number 2003-318 on Jul 31, 2003

Voted NO on establishing a free trade agreement between the US and Chile.

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: US-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act; Bill S.1416/HR 2738 ; vote number 2003-319 on Jul 31, 2003

Voted YES on extending free trade to Andean nations.

HR3009 Fast Track Trade Authority bill: To extend the Andean Trade Preference Act, to grant additional trade benefits under that Act, and for other purposes. Vote to pass a bill that would enlarge duty-free status to particular products from Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, renew the president's fast-track authority and reauthorize and increase a program to make accessible retraining and relocation assistance to U.S. workers hurt by trade agreements. It would also approve a five-year extension of Generalized System of Preferences and produce a refundable 70 percent tax credit for health insurance costs for displaced workers.

Edwards says, "Sen. Edwards voted NO on the final passage of this bill and has expressed his opposition to the Andean Free Trade agreement. "

Bill HR.3009 ; vote number 2002-130 on May 23, 2002

Voted YES on granting normal trade relations status to Vietnam.

Vote to grant annual normal trade relations status to Vietnam. The resolution would allow Vietnamese imports to receive the same tariffs as those of other U.S. trading partners.
Bill HJRES51 ; vote number 2001-291 on Oct 3, 2001

Voted YES on removing common goods from national security export rules.

Vote to provide the president the authority to control the export of sensitive dual-use items for national security purposes. The bill would eliminate restrictions on the export of technology that is readily available in foreign markets.
Bill S149 ; vote number 2001-275 on Sep 6, 2001

Voted YES on permanent normal trade relations with China.

Vote to give permanent Normal Trade Relations [NTR] status to China. Currently, NTR status for China is debated and voted on annually.
Bill HR.4444 ; vote number 2000-251 on Sep 19, 2000

Voted NO on expanding trade to the third world.

Vote to expand trade with more than 70 countries in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. The countries would be required to meet certain eligibility requirements in protecting freedoms of expression and associatio
Bill HR.434 ; vote number 2000-98 on May 11, 2000

Rated 17% by CATO, indicating a pro-fair trade voting record.

Edwards scores 17% 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

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Other candidates on Free Trade: John Edwards on other issues:
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