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Public Statements

In Opposition to the Trade Agreements

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KISSELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak of the opposition that I will have to the free trade agreements that we'll be voting on today and to speak of some of the details about those free trade agreements that seem not to be discussed. We seem to want to talk about how these free trade agreements will be good without understanding the details of what we'll be voting upon.

My opposition to these trade agreements is not based upon any type of partisanship. That negative force called ``partisanship'' that is too much part of our lives here in Washington, I don't deal with. This is not partisanship. This is not some type of blinded protectionism, that somehow we need to close our shores. I'm very aware of the global impact of our modern economy. And it's not based upon any type of ignorance of the potential good that these so-called free trade agreements can present to us. Indeed, I have lived in a part of the country that has suffered immensely from free trade agreements. I worked 27 years in textiles and watched the jobs leave. My district, North Carolina's Eighth District, is still suffering, as it has for the last 10 years, because of the results of free trade agreements.

Indeed, if you look at the facts of our Nation and where we are in our economy, it's hard to say that since free trade agreements have become part of our lives that it has been good for the Nation. We look at our working families. It was reported last week that our working families are now at income levels of the mid-1990s. We've lost so much of our industrial base. We've lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. And we continue to see our trade deficits climb and climb and climb.

Mr. Speaker, we have the world's greatest economy. We need trade agreements, but not these trade agreements. We need for people to come to us and say we would like to play in the United States market, and we should say what terms that we should have for that.

So what are the details of the Korean free trade agreement? We hear that it will create 75,000 jobs. The Economic Policy Institute tells us we will lose over 150,000 jobs. And we'll hear a lot about the jobs that were created, but we won't hear too much about those jobs that were lost, of which 40,000 jobs are estimated to be lost in the textile industry.

We won't hear about how 65 percent of something can be made in another country and brought to South Korea and finished there and then brought into the United States, recognizing that China is the next-door neighbor to Korea. So how much transshipment is going to come out of China, the 65 percent to South Korea?

We won't hear that North Korea will be allowed to send goods to the United States as a part of this trade agreement.

We won't talk about the currency manipulation that South Korea engages in, just like China does.

We won't talk about the tariffs that will stay in place, protecting Korean goods, while we drop ours immediately.

We'll talk about that we can sell more cars in Korea, up to 75,000, if they choose to buy them--there's no guarantees--when we know that South Korea now is selling hundreds of thousands of cars in the United States.

Mr. Speaker, we need trade agreements, but we need trade agreements that work for us. This is not a reflection on the countries. It's a reflection on these old NAFTA/CAFTA-type trade deals that were negotiated years ago in the Bush era that have been dusted off and brought to us and being told to us that this is good for the American worker, this will create jobs. Unfortunately, the history of our trade agreements has been anything but that.

I was with an administration official in North Carolina a year ago, and I was told how good free trade had been for North Carolina. And I said, I can't address that, but I can address that free trade has not been good for my district. I was told that they could show me the numbers, and I told them I could show them the empty buildings, many of which are not even standing now. They've just been torn down, not replaced with jobs. Retrain our people for what, to ship more jobs offshore?

Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to look at the details of this, look at our economy, and look at the jobs we have lost and say, is this good for America? No, it's not.


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