U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow Outlines Opposition to CAFTA
With Senate engaged in a debate over approval of The Central American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today outlined her concerns over the trade agreement and its potential impact on Michigan and U.S. workers and business:
"I am concerned that with CAFTA we are once again rushing into a trade agreement that doesn't help - and in fact - has the potential to hurt American workers and our families. We all want trade, but we want trade agreements that involve exporting products, not jobs.
"Michigan certainly will not benefit, because this agreement does not provide a meaningful export market for Michigan manufacturers. I am very concerned about this, particularly at a time when we have the highest unemployment rate in the country.
"I voted for the U.S./Australia Free Trade Agreement, because when we trade with Australia we trade on a level playing field. That agreement works because our economies are similar and our workers get paid roughly the same wage. Our companies can sell their products in Australia because it has a high minimum wage, sound environmental laws and good labor standards.
"But CAFTA is not an agreement between similar nations. This pact will ship jobs overseas and provide few export markets for American companies.
"After Congress passed NAFTA, hundreds of thousands of American jobs were lost to Mexico. And it is still happening. Just last year, Electrolux closed a plant in Greenville, Michigan and put 2,700 highly paid workers on the street. Under NAFTA we see that over the past 11 years U.S. workers have lost nearly 1 million jobs due to growing trade deficits with our NAFTA partners.
"I am also concerned because we aren't even enforcing our existing trade agreements, which doesn't create confidence among the American people. Currently, two of our major trading partners, China and Japan, are violating world trade rules by manipulating their currencies, which has the effect of making their products cheaper here and our products more expensive over there.
"I have also introduced a bill that would create a Trade Prosecutor. This position would have the authority to ensure compliance with trade agreements to protect our manufacturers and farmers against unfair trade practices.
"No one will win in a race to the bottom. We need a race to the top. With a level playing field American workers and business can win every time."