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CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight - Transcript

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PILGRIM: President Bush signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement into law one year ago. And Congressman John Barrow of Georgia fought the president every step of the way. He remains a fierce opponent of CAFTA.

Tonight, John Barrow says the "so-called free trade agreement is now triggering job losses in his state and across the country." Congressman Barrow joins me tonight from Augusta, Georgia. Thanks for being with us, sir.

REP. JOHN BARROW, (D) GEORGIA: Thank you, Kitty. It's good to be with you.

PILGRIM: You take issue with Jockey International. It's based in Millen, Georgia. And they laid off 203 of its employees. You blame CAFTA for this, don't you?

BARROW: Well, what happened in my district is really -- it really demonstrates two things that are wrong with our failed trade policy in this country.

First, bad trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA continue to ship out and export good manufacturing jobs overseas. And second, some employers who stand to gain an awful lot from CAFTA have actually misled their employees into believing that trade deals like CAFTA will be good for them.

In my district, for example, Jockey led a campaign through their employees to try and blanket my office with letters to urge me to support CAFTA. We got over 100 letters. They all said the same thing. And no surprise, because they're all copies of a sample letter that we got after the fact from Jockey management. And the letters all say things like CAFTA is good for me, it's good for Jockey and it's good for Georgia. Well the 203 people who lost their jobs as a result of CAFTA may think it's good for Jockey, but it's certainly not good for the workers for Jockey.

PILGRIM: Yes, let's get into this paper. We have a bit of a paper trail here. We a statement to us from Jockey International. I'd like to read it to you. "Congressman Barrow's assertion that CAFTA caused the elimination of 203 sewing jobs at the Jockey mill in Georgia plant is flat wrong. With or without CAFTA, underwear made in the Caribbean and Central American region can be imported duty-free."

So they say CAFTA or no CAFTA, they would be moving these jobs offshore anyway. What do you have to say about that?

BARROW: Well, what they said to CAFTA employees, and what the -- the promise they made to their employees and the promise that their employees repeated to me in their letters was that CAFTA was going to keep their jobs here.

What they're failing to point out is that while there is a duty- free market for jobs in Millen, Georgia, in Canada, the savings from shipping those jobs overseas down to the CAFTA outweighs the savings we get under NAFTA. So what they're not pointing out is that while they kept the jobs here fore a while until they had CAFTA in the bag, once CAFTA was in the bag, then they had to compare the money they would save by shipping jobs down to the CAFTA countries as opposed to the duty-free sales it would make to Canada.

So when they point out that things have changed, nothing has changed between now and CAFTA except the fact that the deal with the CAFTA countries is now locked in. And now they get to compare the cost of doing business with Canada from the CAFTA countries as opposed to the cost of doing business with Canada from here in Jenkins Country.

And we lose, because we're not playing on a level playing field.

PILGRIM: Well, we cut to the chase, the job are still gone.

Let me read you a letter from Jockey management dated May 2003. It was used internally at Jockey to conduct meetings on CAFTA, as you have mentioned it. And it says, "CAFTA is good for Georgia because Georgia exported $664 million in merchandise to the region, the fifth largest total among the 50 states. And the export volume will grow under CAFTA. CAFTA is good for me, it's good for Jockey and it's good for Georgia."

So they're embracing CAFTA. They like the Caribbean Trade Agreement. And yet those jobs are still gone.

BARROW: The reason is because we've exported our jobs in manufacturing these products down to the CAFTA countries already. They're not pointing that out. We have also got under a CAFTA arrangement where now we used to have duty-free imports into this country from CAFTA country, but only if the products that they incorporated in their manufacturing process started out in this country.

That's been wiped out under CAFTA. That was a further incentive to move not just the jobs they were already shipping down there, but new jobs in the processing of raw materials into the basic building blocks of finished products.

PILGRIM: What's to be done there?

BARROW: So textiles and yarn, that's all going -- well, what we need to do is recognize, the American workers are getting squeezed at both ends. Illegal immigration is hitting us in the service sector and selling out jobs to the lowest bidder. In the manufacturing end of things, bad trade deals like CAFTA and NAFTA are shipping out manufacturing jobs overseas. It's time to stand up for American workers for a change.

In order to do that, we need to fix these pad trade deals, we need to raise the minimum wage and we need to secure our borders.

PILGRIM: All right. Thank you very much, sir. Congressman John Barrow.


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