Ron Paul on Free Trade

Republican Representative (TX-14); previously Libertarian for President

Free trade helps all of Latin America, even Cuba

Q: How would you engage in Latin America to support the governments and the political parties that support democracy and free markets?

PAUL: Well, I think free trade is the answer. Free trade is an answer to a lot of conflicts around the world, so I'm always promoting free trade. And you might add Cuba, too. I think we would be a lot better off trading with Cuba.

But as far as us having an obligation, a military or a financial obligation to go down and dictate to them what government they should have, I don't like that idea. I would try to set a standard here where countries would want to emulate us. Unfortunately, sometimes we slip up on our standards and we go around the world and we try to force ourselves on others. And yet, I believe with friendship and trade, you can have a lot of influence, and I strongly believe that it's time we have friendship and trade with Cuba.

Source: CNN 2012 GOP primary debate on the eve of Florida primary , Jan 26, 2012

China trade benefits American consumers

Q: Apple Computer employs 46,000 Americans, but also employs about 500,000 people in China. How do you revive "Made in America"?

PAUL: You have to create the right conditions to bring these companies back, and they have to bring their capital back and shouldn't be taxed. Apple's a great company, but the way you ask the question, it infers that because there's a bunch of workers overseas, it hasn't benefited a lot of people here. The consumers obviously have been benefited by a good company, well run. But a lot of people worry about us buying and the money going overseas. But if you send money to China, they have to spend those dollars. Unfortunately, they're buying our debt and perpetuating our consumerism here and our debt here. But also, when you get products, let's say the computer costs $100 instead of $1000. Well, the person's just saved $900. That helps the economy. That $900 stays in that person's pocket. So we shouldn't be frightened about trade or sending money on.

Source: South Carolina 2012 GOP debate hosted by CNN's John King , Jan 19, 2012

Trade sanctions never worked on Cuba, and won't work on Iran

Q: You said about Iran: "Sanctions are not diplomacy; they are a precursor to war and an embarrassment to a country that pays lip service to free trade."

A: Countries that you put sanctions on, you are more likely to fight them. I say a policy of peac is free trade. Stay out of their internal business. Don't get involved in these wars. And just bring our troops home.

Q: So your policy towards Iran is, if they want to develop a nuclear weapon, that's their right, no sanctions?

A: No, that makes it much worse. Why would that be so strange, if the Soviets and the Chinese have nuclear weapons? We tolerated the Soviets; we didn't attack them. And they were a much greater danger. You don't go to war against them. This whole idea of sanctions, all these pretend free traders, they're the ones who put on these trade sanctions. This is why we still don't have trade relationships with Cuba. It's about time we talked to Cuba and stopped fighting these wars that are about 30 or 40 years old.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa , Aug 11, 2011

No embargoes & no tariffs; but no NAFTA too

While he supports free trade in theory, Rep. Paul chafes at the government's role in the process, arguing that "We don't need government agreements to have free trade. We merely need to lower or eliminate taxes on the American people, without regard to what other nations do." His philosophical support for free trade is evidenced by his support for legislation lifting government-imposed trade barriers, such as the Cuba embargo. He also voted against a proposal that would slap duties on China if they didn't adjust their currency.

Unlike protectionists, Ron Paul embraces the economic importance of free trade, but lives in a dream world if he thinks free trade will be realized absent agreements like NAFTA. Paul himself argues that "tariffs are simply taxes on consumers," but by opposing these trade agreements, he is actively opposing a decrease in those taxes. While Paul's rhetoric is soundly pro-free trade, his voting record mirrors those of Congress's worst protectionists.

Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #8: Ron Paul , Jun 21, 2011

Fast-track cedes power from Congress to President

Today, trade policy has been taken over by the executive branch and Congress graciously cedes this power. Transferring authority under fast-track legislation defies the intent of the Constitution. Trade treaties are not entered into, since senatorial approval by two-thirds would be required and more difficult to pass. This has led to international trade agreements such as WTO, NAFTA, and CAFTA that sacrifice national sovereignty to international government organizations. These agreements can supersede state laws as well. The Constitution assigns to the Congress the responsibility of regulating foreign trade. If the people and the Congress preferred that the President and international government entities control trade, the Constitution should have been amended. Ignoring the Constitution on these issues or any issue serves to undermine constitutional legitimacy.
Source: Liberty Defined, by Rep. Ron Paul, p.111-112 , Apr 19, 2011

I oppose trade organizations because of flawed fast-track

I consider myself the most "radical" free trader in Congress, but I do not vote for international trade organizations. The process by which these agreements are passed is flawed. Generally, fast-track legislation is passed by Congress, and congressional authority over foreign commerce is transferred to the executive branch. The President then negotiates with other countries the details of how to lower tariffs or gives permission to retaliate for unfair trade practices. The only way the executive branch should be involved is to draft a treaty to be ratified by the Senate. Generally, this is an obstacle if the President is required to get 2/3 of the Senate to agree. It's easy to get a majority of each party to give approval to fast-track legislation. Since the Constitution is clear that Congress has the responsibility for foreign commerce, I don't believe the President should even attempt to regulate foreign trade by treaty. The President already has veto power over what Congress might pass.
Source: Liberty Defined, by Rep. Ron Paul, p.298 , Apr 19, 2011

Market can sort out mess created by central banks

I recall a fascinating trip during my days as a Air Force flight surgeon. We stopped in Peshawar, Pakistan, for a shopping trip at the Afghan border.

We could not enter Afghanistan. But nearby there was a huge cave set up as an exchange post with goods as numerous as a giant department store's. Russian and Eastern goods were sold, as well as American ad other Western goods. It was peaceful under the earth. Here the people were permitted to trade and converse (authorities on both sides knew of the underground market) because it served the interests of both, while up above, the Cold War raged.

Governments & central banks mess things up, but the market, if it is permitted to operate, is capable of sorting out the mess even under duress. There will always be the underground, smugglers, and the black market, as long as we allow our governments to plunder and control us by making voluntary exchanges and associations illegal. It is government controls themselves that give us a rise to a black market.

Source: End the Fed, by Rep. Ron Paul, p.119-120 , Sep 29, 2010

Inflation is regressive & results in protectionism

Inflation is the most vicious and regressive of all forms of taxation. It transfers wealth from the middle class to the privileged rich. The economic chaos that results from a policy of central bank inflation inevitably leads to political instability and violence. It's an ancient tool of all authoritarians.

Inflating is never a benefit to freedom-loving people. It destroys prosperity; feeds the fires of war; & is responsible for recessions. It's deceptive & addictive, and causes delusions of grandeur. Wealth cannot be achieved by creating money by fiat.

Depending on monetary fraud for national prosperity or a reversal of our downward spiral is riskier than depending on the lottery.

Inflation has been used to pay for empires since ancient Rome. And they all end badly. Inflationism and corporatism engender protectionism and trade wars. They prompt scapegoating: blaming foreigners, illegal immigrants, ethnic minorities, and too often freedom itself for the predictable events and suffering that result

Source: End the Fed, by Rep. Ron Paul, p.134 , Sep 29, 2010

Free trade agreements threaten national sovereignty

I opposed both the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, both of which were heavily favored by the political establishment. Many supporters of the free trade market supported these agreements. Nearly six decades ago when the International Trade Organization was up for debate, conservatives and libertarians agreed that supranational trade bureaucracies with the power to infringe upon American sovereignty were undesirable.
Source: The Revolution: A Manifesto, by Ron Paul, p. 96 , Apr 1, 2008

FactCheck: NAFTA Superhighway not a conspiracy; it’s I-35

On his campaign website, Paul describes the NAFTA Superhighway as “a ten-lane colossus the width of several football fields, with freight and rail lines, fiber-optic cable lines, and oil and natural gas pipelines running alongside.” According to Paul, th ultimate plan is to form a North American Union with a single currency and unlimited travel within its borders.

The problem with Paul’s claim is that there are no plans to build a NAFTA Superhighway. Or a North American Union, for that matter.

Paul cites a map from the North America’s SuperCorridor Organization (NASCO), which is a consortium of public and private entities. But the map does not show a new highway. Those bright blue lines show only I-35 and I-29--interstates that already exist. NASCO says it and some of the local governments along I-35 have been referring to that route as the “NAFTA Superhighway” for years. NASCO advocates improvements to existing roads, but is not lobbying for, or planning to build, any new thoroughfares.

Source: FactCheck.org: AdWatch of 2008 TV Ad, “The Only One” , Feb 11, 2008

Look at the monetary system and deal with the trade issues

We need to adopt free trade agreements with other countries. We inhibit the export of, say, farm products to countries like Cuba. It’s time we changed our attitude about Cuba. Our markets get closed for monetary reasons because our chief export is our dollar. Because we have the reserve currency of the world, people take these dollars and our jobs go overseas. You can’t solve any of these problems if you don’t look at the monetary system and how it contributes to these job losses at home.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate , Dec 12, 2007

Block international highway from Canada to Mexico

Q: You charged at the YouTube debate that eminent domain would be used to build a new international highway from Canada through the US down to Mexico, suggesting that maybe there was a plan to create some sort of North American Union, similar to the European Union. That is now being denied by a lot of folks in Washington, including a spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration, saying: “There is no such super highway like the one he’s talking about. It doesn’t exist in plans or anywhere else.”

A: We have a bill in the Congress to stop all of the funding for this particular highway, and I think we have over 50 co-sponsors of it. To be in denial of this, that this is not planned, they’re not going to admit it. It’s subtle. They’ll say, we are just improving highways. But how come they had a meeting in April 2005 with the president of Mexico, the US & Canada, and they talk about these things? They do believe in globalism. So I don’t think there is any doubt about the plans.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Dec 2, 2007

No North American Union; no WTO; no UN

Q: Will you abolish all plans to promote economic integration of North America?

A: Not only do I not want a North American Union, I want us out of the U.N., the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, NAFTA and CAFTA. NAFTA has nothing to do for free trade. It’s a pretense to lower tariffs, but it’s a reason to go talk to the WTO to raise tariffs. We need free trade. That’s very, very important. But you don’t get that by world government.

Source: 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Inappropriate to impose sanctions for persecuting Christians

Q: Today, Christians are being beaten, jailed, and expelled throughout the Muslim world. In Saudi Arabia, no church buildings are permitted, yet Saudi extremist Wahhabis have built hundreds of mosques in the US with funding from Saudi Arabia. If elected, will you take action to protest these gross injustices and persecution by denying visas or imposing trade sanctions?
Source: [Xref Hunter] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

China trade not contingent on human rights & product safety

Q: Sarah Lu was forced to work in labor camps for six years, for the crime of being a Christian house church leader. Thousands of prisoners of conscience are forced to manufacture items that stock our American shelves. Would you make future trade with China contingent on them measurably improving their record on religious freedom & human rights?
Source: 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

No NAFTA Superhighway from Canada to Mexico

Q: As president, do you support the NAFTA “Superhighway” presently under construction from Mexico to Canada, portions of which shall be under foreign control?
Source: [Xref Hunter] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

NAFTA superhighway threatens widespread eminent domain

Today, we face a new threat of widespread eminent domain actions as a result of powerful interests who want to build a NAFTA superhighway through the United States from Mexico to Canada. Property rights are the foundation of all rights in a free society. Without the right to own a printing press, for example, freedom of the press becomes meaningless. The next president must get federal agencies out of these schemes to deny property owners their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.
Source: 2008 House campaign website, www.ronpaul2008.com, “Issues” , Sep 1, 2007

IMF empowers politicians by causing inflation

The monetary reforms drawn up at Bretton Woods N.H. in July 1944, were supposed to be permanent. The agreement lasted barely 27 years.

At this UN Monetary and Financial Conference, the gold bullion standard was altered. Although the new system was hailed as an improvement, it was a way to institutionalize long-term inflation and transfer power to politicians and bankers. It was also the means to finance interventionist foreign policy, by creating money and credit out of thin air. Political pain and economic disruption at home were to be eased by exporting much of the inflation.

44 nations agreed to the establishment of a World Bank and an International Monetary Fund, which began operations in 1946. This permitted dollars--said to be “good as gold”--to be substituted for gold as the international reserve currency.

With this agreement, gold ceased to flow back and forth to settle balance of payment differences, thus eliminating an essential feature of a sound monetary system.

Source: Gold, Peace, and Prosperity, by Ron Paul, p. 27-28 , Dec 31, 1981

Allow Americans to own gold; end large-scale foreign sales

The minting of U.S. gold medallions has emphasized the importance of the people’s right to own gold.

Historic Congressional hearings have been held on the gold standard and an amendment to establish a gold commission passed both Houses unanimously. The commission, composed of public and private sector representatives, will specifically study the role of gold in the domestic and international monetary systems.

We must also work on halting massive gold sales at below market prices to European central bankers and Arab sheiks. If the administration is still intent on “demonetizing” gold with gold sales, let’s at least sell it only in sizes that Americans can afford--one, one half, and one quarter ounce coins.

Source: Gold, Peace, and Prosperity, by Ron Paul, p. 49 , Dec 31, 1981

Voted NO on promoting free trade with Peru.

Approves the Agreement entered into with the government of Peru. Provides for the Agreement's entry into force upon certain conditions being met on or after January 1, 2008. Prescribes requirements for:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. RANGEL: It's absolutely ridiculous to believe that we can create jobs without trade. I had the opportunity to travel to Peru recently. I saw firsthand how important this agreement is to Peru and how this agreement will strengthen an important ally of ours in that region. Peru is resisting the efforts of Venezuela's authoritarian President Hugo Chavez to wage a war of words and ideas in Latin America against the US. Congress should acknowledge the support of the people of Peru and pass this legislation by a strong margin.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. WU: I regret that I cannot vote for this bill tonight because it does not put human rights on an equal footing with environmental and labor protections.

Rep. KILDEE: All trade agreements suffer from the same fundamental flaw: They are not self-enforcing. Trade agreements depend upon vigorous enforcement, which requires official complaints be made when violations occur. I have no faith in President Bush to show any enthusiasm to enforce this agreement. Congress should not hand this administration yet another trade agreement because past agreements have been more efficient at exporting jobs than goods and services. I appeal to all Members of Congress to vote NO on this. But I appeal especially to my fellow Democrats not to turn their backs on those American workers who suffer from the export of their jobs. They want a paycheck, not an unemployment check.

Reference: Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act; Bill H.R. 3688 ; vote number 2007-1060 on Nov 8, 2007

Voted NO on implementing CAFTA, Central America Free Trade.

To implement the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement. A vote of YES would:
Reference: CAFTA Implementation Bill; Bill HR 3045 ; vote number 2005-443 on Jul 28, 2005

Voted NO on implementing US-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act: implementing free trade with protections for the domestic textile and apparel industries.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Tom DeLay [R, TX-22]; Bill H.R.4759 ; vote number 2004-375 on Jul 14, 2004

Voted NO on implementing 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

No restrictions on import/export; but maintain sovereignty .

Paul adopted the Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement:

    BE IT RESOLVED that the Republican Liberty Caucus endorses the following [among its] principles:
  1. The US government should inhibit neither the exportation of US goods and services worldwide, nor the importation of goods and services.
  2. The United States should not be answerable to any governing body outside the United States for its trade policy.
Source: Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement 00-RLC9 on Dec 8, 2000

End economic protectionism: let dairy compacts expire .

Paul co-sponsored the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact resolution:

Declares that the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact should be allowed to expire under its own terms on September 30, 2001. Expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that Article I, section 10 of the United States Constitution should not be used to renew the interstate economic protectionism of our Nation's early history.

Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR230 on Aug 2, 2001

Rated 76% by CATO, indicating a pro-free trade voting record.

Paul scores 76% 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

Block NAFTA Superhighway & North American Union.

Paul co-sponsored blocking NAFTA Superhighway & North American Union

This resolution urges disengaging from the NAFTA Superhighway System and the North American because these proposals threaten U.S. sovereignty:

Source: Resolution against the NAFTA Superhighway (H.CON.RES.40) 2007-HCR40 on Jan 22, 2007

2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Free Trade: Ron Paul on other issues:
TX Gubernatorial:
Annise Parker
Julian Castro
Mike Rawlings
Rick Perry
TX Senatorial:
David Dewhurst
John Cornyn
Jon Roland
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Paul Sadler
Ted Cruz

Retiring to run for other office:

Running for President:
TX-14:Ron Paul(R)

Running for Mayor:
CA-51:Bob Filner(D)

Running for Governor:
IN-6:Mike Pence(R)
WA-1:Jay Inslee(D)

Running for Senate:
AZ-6:Jeff Flake(R)
CT-5:Chris Murphy(R)
FL-14:Connie Mack(R)
HI-2:Mazie Hirono(D)
IN-2:Joe Donnelly(D)
MO-2:Todd Akin(R)
MT-0:Dennis Rehberg(R)
ND-0:Rick Berg(D)
NM-1:Martin Heinrich(D)
NV-1:Shelley Berkley(D)
NY-9:Bob Turner(R)
WI-2:Tammy Baldwin(D)
Lost Primary 2012:
IL-16:Donald Manzullo(R)
NJ-9:Steven Rothman(D)
OH-2:Jean Schmidt(R)
OH-9:Dennis Kucinich(D)
PA-4:Jason Altmire(D)
PA-17:Tim Holden(D)
TX-16:Silvestre Reyes(D)

Retiring 2012:
AR-4:Mike Ross(D)
AZ-8:Gabby Giffords(D)
CA-2:Wally Herger(R)
CA-6:Lynn Woolsey(D)
CA-18:Dennis Cardoza(R)
CA-24:Elton Gallegly(D)
CA-26:David Dreier(R)
CA-41:Jerry Lewis(R)
IL-12:Jerry Costello(D)
IL-15:Timothy Johnson(R)
IN-5:Dan Burton(R)
KY-4:Geoff Davis(R)
MA-1:John Olver(D)
MA-4:Barney Frank(D)
MI-5:Dale Kildee(D)
NC-9:Sue Myrick(R)
NC-11:Heath Shuler(D)
NC-13:Brad Miller(D)
NY-5:Gary Ackerman(D)
NY-10:Ed Towns(D)
NY-22:Maurice Hinchey(D)
OH-7:Steve Austria(R)
OK-2:Dan Boren(D)
PA-19:Todd Platts(R)
TX-20:Charles Gonzalez(D)
WA-6:Norm Dicks(D)
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Main Page
TX politicians

Contact info:
Campaign website:
Email Contact Form
Fax Number:
House mailing address:
203 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
House Phone:
(202) 225-2831
Mailing Address:
8000 Forbes Place, Suite 200, Springfield VA 22151
Official Website
Phone number:
(202) 225-2831
Supporter website:
Texas office:
122 West Way, Suite 301, Lake Jackson, TX 77566
Texas Phone:
(979) 285-0231
Toll-Free Phone:

Page last updated: Jun 12, 2012