Kildee Introduces Trade Moratorium Bill

By:  Dale Kildee
Date: Nov. 28, 2005
Location: Washington, DC

Kildee Introduces Trade Moratorium Bill
Legislation Would Put a Two-Year Brake on A Flawed Trade Policy

WASHINGTON - Congressman Dale E. Kildee (D-MI) announced today he has introduced a bill to stem the flow of jobs and wages out of America, by placing a moratorium on all free trade agreements negotiated by the United States. Kildee's legislation, H.R. 4407, will prohibit the U.S. from entering into any bilateral or regional trade agreement for two years, attempting to reverse a domestic trade policy that has been devastating to U.S. workers, small businesses, farmers, the environment and the economy.

"As our trade deficit continues to set new records, we should call a ‘timeout' on this headlong rush into these free trade agreements," Kildee said. "Our current domestic trade policy encourages the closing down of American factories and moving them overseas, usually to a country where wages are low and the standard of living is lower. This race to the bottom has real consequences, and it's time to blow the whistle on unfair trade deals that make American jobs our leading export."

For years, the American people have been promised that bilateral and regional trade agreements would throw open the doors of international markets eager for American goods. However, in the ten years following passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Congressman Kildee opposed, millions of American jobs have been lost, threatening entire industries that were once bedrocks of this country. And China and Japan continue to manipulate their currencies without any significant pressure from our government, tilting an already uneven playing field further away from America.

Nearly three million manufacturing jobs have been lost since the Bush Administration took office in 2001. In 2004, the United States had a record $162 billion deficit on goods trade with China and a $617 billion trade deficit on goods and services worldwide. Eliminating tariffs and allowing companies to exploit foreign labor has destroyed entire American industries and has resulted in the highest American trade deficit ever, placing America at a huge economic disadvantage.

Kildee's bill would call for an immediate termination of any current free trade agreement negotiations upon passage. Kildee's district and home state of Michigan are especially threatened by the U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (FTA), one of six FTAs currently being negotiated by the U.S. government. Kildee has led the effort in Congress to ensure the current U.S. pickup truck tariff is not removed in the FTA. Such a removal could jeopardize the U.S. pickup truck industry by permitting third-party nations, such as South Korea, Japan and India, to use Thailand as a back door into the U.S. automotive market at a time when the domestic auto industry is already hemmoraging jobs due to unfair trade policies. H.R. 4407 would put an end to the U.S.-Thailand FTA and help preserve the American automobile industry.

The U.S.-Thailand FTA also could threaten Michigan's sugar industry. Language in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), a bill Congressman Kildee opposed, allows Central American countries to flood U.S. sugar markets with unneeded subsidized sugar priced below the cost of production. The door is now open for Thailand, the world's second largest sugar exporter, to do the same, and close down American sugar factories in the process.

Major free trade agreements do not even have broad support among members of Congress that vote for them. In July, the House of Representatives vote on CAFTA was narrowly approved, 217-215, after an hour-long roll call vote in the middle of the night. CAFTA passed after Republican House leaders held the vote open past midnight while they cut unrelated political deals with members reluctant to support the agreement.

"The CAFTA vote was a perfect example of how modern American trade policy cannot stand on its merits," said Kildee. "CAFTA was created and sold as an economic stimulus package, but when a clear majority of the Congress and the American public weren't buying it, it had to be repackaged as a national security measure. When trade deals cannot even be presented to the American people honestly, it's time to put a stop to them. "

Congressman Kildee has voted against every harmful, unbalanced trade agreement brought before Congress, including NAFTA, CAFTA, the U.S.-Chile FTA, the U.S.-Singapore FTA and the U.S.-Australia FTA. He has also voted against legislation establishing the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), normalizing permanent trade relations with China (PNTR), and fast-track trade promotion authority, a law that prevents Congress from amending free trade agreements.

H.R. 4407 has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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