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Bush faces struggle in trade politics

Posted on 09/02/2006 5:14:39 AM PDT by radar101

The Bush administration's winning streak in getting Congress to go along with trade agreements may be in trouble, particularly if Democrats make the gains predicted for them in November's election.

It took anguished debate and an uncomfortably close vote in July for Congress to pass a trade agreement with Oman, an Arabian Sea nation of 3 million people. For President Bush's team, which views free trade as a means to promote prosperity and democracy around the world, it was not a good sign.

Critics of the administration's trade agenda saw the 221-205 House vote in late July to approve the trade pact with tiny Oman as a turning point.

"It's clear that the U.S. public and Congress have had it with our trade status quo," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. "We have witnessed a dramatic shift in U.S. trade politics."

The administration has so far concluded and won congressional approval of bilateral trade agreements with Jordan, Singapore, Chile, Morocco and Bahrain as well as Oman. Last year it also won passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement.

"We've had remarkable success in moving a trade-liberalizing, trade-enhancing agenda," U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab in an interview with The Associated Press.

"The president and the administration are very conscious of what needs to be done: You don't close any bad deals," she said, noting how her negotiators were prepared to walk away from the stalled Doha Round of global trade talks.

But the 217-215 House vote last year on CAFTA showed how tough it has become to get a trade deal through Congress. It required personal appearances on Capitol Hill by Bush and Vice President Cheney and — with Democrats united in opposition — some arm-twisting of wavering Republicans to avert what would have been a devastating defeat.

Trade agreements remove barriers, such as tariffs and quotas, that make it more expensive for Americans to buy foreign goods and sell products overseas.

Democratic opponents of such deals say they don't establish a two-way street. They cite a trade deficit that has risen from a little more than $100 billion in 1993, when the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada was approved, to more than $700 billion last year.

They complain the trade deficit with China has exploded since permanent trade relations were established with Beijing in 2000 and say the United States continues to lose factories and jobs to foreign competitors.

Democrats also charge that trade deals the administration negotiates with less-developed countries don't do enough to prevent worker and environmental exploitation.

Schwab said her office was "very active in reaching out across the aisle," disputing Democratic claims that their concerns are ignored. "When I'm in the country, I'm up on the Hill."

Rep. Ben Cardin, D-Md., one of his party's chief spokesmen on trade issues, said Democrats are open to trade accords that address their concerns.

"We're for trade agreements. We want to see trade agreements advance," Cardin said. "But it's been a really difficult battle with the administration to advance worker rights."

With several dozen House Republicans under pressure to protect textile and other industries in their districts, passing any trade agreement becomes a formidable task.

"The postwar consensus on free trade has largely disappeared," said Daniel Griswald, a trade policy expert at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. "The biggest change has been the collapse of support for free trade in the Democratic party."

The administration can hardly put all the blame on Democrats. Anti-U.S. sentiment in Latin America, led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, has dimmed hopes for a hemisphere-wide Free Trade Area of the Americas. The Doha Round of global trade talks collapsed in August, with the United States and the European Union trading accusations over farm subsidies and other issues.

The political situation in the Middle East also has clouded the administration's goal of setting up a free trade zone there by 2013.

Most worrisome for the president, however, is the expiration next July of fast-track authority that gives him the power to negotiate trade deals out from under the thumb of lawmakers. Congress can still pass or defeat them, but cannot change the terms.

Bush gained that authority in 2002 after a 215-214 vote in the House. "Under the current climate," said Sen. Max Baucus (news, bio, voting record) of Montana, a pro-trade Democrat, "I am not optimistic that it will be renewed."

Schwab's office, meanwhile, continues to aggressively pursue bilateral agreements. Negotiations are under way with Panama, South Africa and Thailand, and talks have begun with South Korea and Malaysia. The Senate Finance Committee approved measures to advance free trade with Peru and establish permanent normal trade relations with Vietnam.

Myron Brilliant, vice president for Asian affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said his group is pressing for approval of the Vietnam measure by November, when Bush is scheduled to visit Hanoi for an Asian economic summit.

But "any time you head into a midterm election where so much is up for grabs," he acknowledged, "you are going to have a difficult political environment for trade bills to get through."

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 109th; cafta; freetrade; nafta; oneworld; trade
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"We've had remarkable success in moving a trade-liberalizing, trade-enhancing agenda," U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab in an interview with The Associated Press.

Selling American jobs to Dictatorial regimes

1 posted on 09/02/2006 5:14:40 AM PDT by radar101
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To: radar101

Get over it. There are not any American jobs, just losers who think the world owes them a living.

2 posted on 09/02/2006 5:23:48 AM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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To: radar101
Democrat or Republican, many of those on the Hill have vested interests or are sponsored by those who have interests in this moving forward. Trade balance, human rights, environmental concerns, national security, the interests of the US public; all this is pushed aside when dealing with the multinational big business mentality where it's only about the buck.

A sweat shop in China, employing some 14 year old kid, in a nation that does not support us in the GWOT and even sees us as a foe supplying arms to Iran and elsewhere, that produces these products intended for the US market in a manner that does not comply to US OSHA or EPA standards (No CFC reductions, scrubbers on smoke stacks....), that grossly violates basic human rights (forced abortions)........ none of that matters, the profit margins are big! And better yet, at the end of the day, BOTH Democrat and Republican support trade agreements with such regimes. In this rare case, the liberal is right.
3 posted on 09/02/2006 5:31:31 AM PDT by Red6
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To: ClaireSolt
When you have us exporting jobs and talking about free trade but they intentionally pin their currency to the dollar. When they fix this exchange rate as China did and I believe still does in order to discourage import of US products into their country but stimulate massive export, you don't really have free trade. You have a cash cow that is milked. Because some are profiting from this situation our political leadership simply overlooks this minor detail, after all, whose in those lobby's, donates to their campaigns, where did some of them work at one point.......

Ask yourself this- Why do we have laws banning child labor but allow the importation of products that were produced that way? Why do we require OSHA standards be met but allow products be imported that were not manufactured under those standards? Why do we allow the importation of products that were manufactured in a way that does not comply to our EPA standards? Why would we allow trade with those who sell arms to our enemies and see us in fact as their foe? Does this make sense? No, it does not. It only makes sense if you're fat catting off of this situation.
4 posted on 09/02/2006 6:05:59 AM PDT by Red6
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To: Red6
I can easily imagine a scenario of starving children in China leading to massive foreign aid to their government which ends up not alleviating their suffering. I'd rather have a trade deficit.

I think you have a very poor understanding of the relationship of all of the parts of the equation. If you could just separate government from other actors you would do better. And, also, if you would get over the idea that you have a right to inflict your laws on all of the poor people in the world that would help too.

Sarcasm is not appropriate for someone who understands so little and has no respect for others either.

5 posted on 09/02/2006 7:06:05 AM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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To: ClaireSolt

1. The policy makers define the rules and set in place the general framework under which this trade is conducted (Period).

2. China is neither a democracy, nor a republic, nor free, nor a market driven economy. They backed Iraq under Saddam, they back Iran, and they back North Korea. It's a regime that sees us as their enemy and as someone who spent time along the DMZ in South Korea I am very much aware of this.

3. Products manufactured to be exclusively sold to the US should meet a minimum of standards beyond product safety. If it's illegal to use child labor in the US and a US firm knowingly uses child labor elsewhere to profiteer from their plight to make millions, this is unethical by ANYONES standards.

Fit this into your open mindedness:

A woman doing forced labor and getting beaten until disfigured is not profiting from some trickling down of wealth. Your arguments are loaded with personal attacks but lack substance. I guess that’s what people do when they are out of arguments.

6 posted on 09/02/2006 8:08:31 AM PDT by Red6
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To: Red6

You have a very bad misunderstanding of global economics. The free trade with China is actually raising the standard of living of the people of China (the so called sweat shops are much better than what those people were subject to or they would not be working in those shops). Over time, the standard of living of the China people will continue to go up and China will most likely become more able to have a better form of government. In the end, we will be better off and so will the people of China.

7 posted on 09/02/2006 8:41:29 AM PDT by Hendrix
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To: Red6

The US doesn't have an FTA with China.

8 posted on 09/02/2006 9:05:23 AM PDT by Ben Ficklin
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To: Hendrix

Judging by the forced labor, their booming desire for American products, forced abortions; Iran, Hezbollah, and North Korea being armed by them, Tienanmen square, their censorship of media, oppression of political dissidents and the fact that the SAME COMMUNIST party that has RULED this country since Mao is still in power, a lot has changed.

This is the newer "much different" from the past type of Chinese COMMUNIST leader: or wait, we maybe should use today’s great leader:

As I said, no substance- Nothing but hypothetical babble on your side. Attack me, and babble, but zero facts to back up your claim.

Since you're outside of China and can actually do a Google search that isn't filtered according to the ruling communist party's political agenda's standard; maybe you should do a search on Google:

This is ridiculous
9 posted on 09/02/2006 9:20:31 AM PDT by Red6
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To: Ben Ficklin
We have bilateral trade agreement's.

Did I ever state it was a FTA?
10 posted on 09/02/2006 9:36:57 AM PDT by Red6
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To: Toddsterpatriot; Mase; expat_panama; nopardons

Ping for a reasonably clear-headed report (I'm ignoring the gratuitous quote from Public Citizen).

11 posted on 09/02/2006 9:39:46 AM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: Red6

The article is about FTAs.

12 posted on 09/02/2006 9:40:32 AM PDT by Ben Ficklin
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Oh, and it's Daniel Griswold.
13 posted on 09/02/2006 9:41:16 AM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: Red6

We don't have a bilateral trade agreement with China, either. At least not in the commonly-understood description of the term.

14 posted on 09/02/2006 9:43:21 AM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: 1rudeboy

Google is your friend:

15 posted on 09/02/2006 9:47:45 AM PDT by Red6
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To: Red6
OK, mr stalin. Here's your first mistake. "1. The policy makers define the rules and set in place the general framework under which this trade is conducted (Period)." Like you, policy makers can't control economies. Economic activity is driven by the actors. Policy makers are always playing catch up. Our laws against child labor did not come from some ideal lawmaker but were enacted when we had passed through a phase of child labor to one where people judged they could afford to do without. Like most ignorant totalitarians, you would disadvantage people who are not as economically advanced in self-righteous ignorance. People like you make me sick.

If you have spent time in the DMZ, then you must know that laws also produce scoff laws and black markets. Only laws that reflect current reality are widely complied with. It is a pipe dream of unions to think that trade agreements could or should impose our labor standards on other countries. Have you even imagined that your ideas would kill children who need to work to eat? No, because you only concern is your own greed.

We function best as a beacon that shows others what to strive for and what they can have when the progress and develop their economies further, not as some stern taskmaster who punishes them for not being there yet.

16 posted on 09/02/2006 9:49:28 AM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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To: Red6

Those look like agreements resulting from WTO actions brought against either China or the U.S. in specific market sectors. A Bilateral Trade Agreement (in capitals) is "we cut our tariffs if you cut yours."

17 posted on 09/02/2006 9:50:05 AM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: radar101
Selling American jobs to Dictatorial regimes

With all the jobs we're selling, you'd think unemployment would be higher than 4.7%. Figures, the government can't do anything right. LOL!!!

18 posted on 09/02/2006 11:10:47 AM PDT by Toddsterpatriot (Why are protectionists so bad at math and reading?)
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To: ClaireSolt
We function best as a beacon that shows others what to strive for and what they can have when the progress and develop their economies further, not as some stern taskmaster who punishes them for not being there yet.

Wow, that was a blast from the past. Sorta like the old "We must acquiesce to the Soviets or the hardliners will take over".

19 posted on 09/02/2006 11:21:35 AM PDT by investigateworld (Abortion stops a beating heart)
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To: ClaireSolt
If the policy maker dropped the restrictions with Iran, tomorrow there would be those who would want to sell and buy from there. Maybe we should be a “Beacon of light” for them too?

The McDonald’s theory will fail with modern China. The hybrid state as they are still has the motives and ambitions of past, it still institutionally thinks the same, it still behaves the same. They simply want to tap into western capital and take advantage of the technology, knowledge bases, industrial processes, management techniques, etc. that make a western information/industrial economy the power it is. Mao was no different; he too wanted to propel China to an industrial power with his moron ideas that didn’t work. Today the true powers behind the scene are still all the same. It’s the same faces and names, just the titles have changed. The question is if it is a good idea to give China access to Western technology and actively build them up the way we are.

Think about this- Airbus is having a hard time, US German/French relations are stressed, and the Chinese government offers Germany/France a guaranteed deal for A380 sales “IF” they drop the arms export restrictions within the EU (They know we won’t drop ours) to China. How serious were the negotiations? Serious enough for Schroeder himself to travel to China for this reason exclusively. China thinks strategically and very long term. We don’t think past our nose and though I despise communists, one of them said a very valid thing once:

“The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Vladimir Lenin.

Culture makes wealth not vice versa. Have the Saudi’s really changed that much since they became rich? Are they now pro-American? Did Mike Tyson become a cultured and educated member of society after he made his fortune before he went back to rags? Why did Germany arise from the ashes after WWII like a phoenix? Was it only because of a Marshal Plan? Pumping billions into China does not change anything. It makes those in the politburo rich and some day we will face off with an enemy more capable than ever, thanks to those who think about “shining beacons”.

China is a regional power and they dominate their sphere of influence. From Miramar to North Korea or Vietnam, they are a major power. Their strides to build a blue water navy (carriers- force projection), their relentless efforts to gain access to US nuclear, radar, stealth, and other technology tells you where they are at. Sometimes just knowing what the information is that the other seeks tells a lot.

China physically fought us in Korea, they backed North Vietnam, they own Miramar, took control over Tibet, waged a little war with the Soviet Union, India, and even backed the Khmer Rouge. Today we still have major fault lines with N. Korea (Which they leverage against us at opportune times) and Taiwan. Only a fool overlooks this and thinks all is OK. Before Pearl Harbor was bombed we were at peace with Japan as well, but there were major rifts. I’m not saying we will go to war tomorrow, but we need to be very careful with them.

As to the ethics of some of this trade. There were people like you talking about how great the NAZI’s were before we went to war with them, Charles Lindberg and Ford being two of them. They too overlooked those ‘minor’ infractions with the Jews which already then were being persecuted. The metal exercise you’re engaging in is called “rationalization”. It’s still wrong. You are attempting to justify child labor, you’re willing to over look forced abortions, you would rather not answer any questions I asked about forced labor, you over look censorship, you avoid all that and more, as long as your pocket book gets fat or at least you perceive it will. Those who condone this behavior are not Conservative, they are swine’s. You I don't consider as such, I just think your misguided. Read “The Animal Farm” you might have forgotten the plot of the story.

Our behavior reference China is entirely morally bankrupt. Even after Tiananmen Square we STILL gave them their waiver for normal trade that year! All so that someone can show a greater profit margin on the books. Because believe me, in the end, that's the ONLY driving force in that decision. Sick-

You keep talking about “shining beacons”, It’ll bite us in the ass eventually.
20 posted on 09/02/2006 11:35:08 AM PDT by Red6
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