At today's first meeting of the President's Export Council, Congressman Mark Schauer (D-MI) spoke out against the panel's push to sign more free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which would make it easier to ship American jobs overseas. Schauer joined several colleagues, including U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), in signing a letter of dissent to oppose these unfair trade agreements.
"To get our economy back on track, we need to export American products instead of American jobs," said Schauer. "We've already lost millions of good-paying jobs due to unfair trade with China and Mexico, and signing more unfair trade deals with countries like South Korea, Colombia and Panama would only make things worse. Our businesses can compete with anyone, but we need to give them a level playing to create jobs here for American workers."
According to the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, Michigan has lost 68,300 jobs due to unfair trade with China since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Similarly, Michigan lost 63,148 jobs due to NAFTA between 1993-2006, the third highest number in the nation. [EPI, 3/23/10; EPI, 9/28/06]
The President's Export Council (PEC) is the principal national advisory committee on international trade. Schauer was appointed to serve on the panel earlier this year. The Council advises the President of government policies and programs that affect U.S. trade performance; promotes export expansion; and provides a forum for discussing and resolving trade-related problems among the business, industrial, agricultural, labor, and government sectors.
A copy of the letter Congressman Schauer signed is available below:
Dear Mr. President:
We applaud your announcement of the formation of the President's Export Council(PEC) in July. Likewise, we are committed to working with you to develop a plan to help achieve the National Export Initiative's (NEI) goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years. The NEI is an ambitious challenge and by taking a collaborative, public-private approach to achieving the NEI's goals, we can make significant progress in strengthening our country's economy and creating millions of new jobs for American workers.
While we also agree that negotiating bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade agreements can assist in achieving the NEI's objectives, we believe that such agreements will not improve the U.S. economy or reduce our trade deficit until we improve certain aspects of the pending agreements and strongly enforce existing agreements. Accordingly, we write to express our disagreement with the recommendations made in the letter from PEC Chairman James McNerny to move forward quickly on the pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
At a time when our economy is struggling to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression, we caution against advancing these agreements without significant changes. A vital component of an export and jobs creation strategy is a trade agenda that does not repeat the mistakes of the previous administration. We need to increase market access to US goods so that we are exporting products, not jobs. At the same time, we must make sure that trade agreements have strong enforcement provisions that target the most pressing barriers facing American workers and businesses. Specifically, these agreements must be improved to promote robust, attainable labor and environmental standards; make the investment chapter, including the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, more equitable; and enhance existing provisions on import safety and government procurement.
We recognize, as you do, that done right, trade agreements can create jobs if they increase exports and help our economy recover. Done wrong, however, trade agreements send those same jobs off-shore, benefiting a narrow class of investors while leaving middle class American families behind. As members of your Export Council, we are eager to work with you to address these issues and to move forward with trade policies that reflect the changing needs of Main Street and the new realities of the global economy. We appreciate your consideration of our supplemental views.
Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Representative Mark Schauer (D-MI)
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Representative David Wu (D-OR)