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Bob Graham on Free Trade

FL Sr Senator (retiring 2004); Democratic Primary Candidate for President


No economic protectionism; but level the playing field

Q: The senior senator from SC, Ernest Hollings, worked hard against NAFTA He says these free trade agreements are job killers. You voted for them. Why is Senator Hollings wrong?

GRAHAM: Senator Hollings, whose judgment I respect in most issues, I think is wrong because America does not have the alternative of becoming an economically protectionist nation. We have got to participate and lead in the global economy, not attempt to avoid it.

Now that doesn't mean that we're going to engage in trade with the law of the jungle. We need to have some rules that are abided by, particularly in areas such as labor and environmental standards. We need to have a level playing field.

And you know what will happen if we do that? I've worked with Americans over the last 25 years, and I have found that consistently American are smart, they're hard working, they're creative. We can compete with anybody in the world if we have a level playing field in trade.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Voted YES on establishing a free trade agreement between US & Singapore.

Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the US and Singapore. The trade agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the US and Singapore. The agreement would remove tariffs on goods and duties on textiles, and open markets for services The agreement would also establish intellectual property, environmental and labor standards.
Reference: US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act; Bill S.1417/HR 2739 ; vote number 2003-318 on Jul 31, 2003

Voted YES on establishing a free trade agreement between the US and Chile.

Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the US and Chile. The agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the US and Chile. The trade pact would decrease duties and tariffs on agricultural and textile products. It would also open markets for services. The trade pact would establish intellectual property safeguards and would call for enforcement of environmental and labor standards.
Reference: US-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act; Bill S.1416/HR 2738 ; vote number 2003-319 on Jul 31, 2003

Voted YES on extending free trade to Andean nations.

HR3009 Fast Track Trade Authority bill: To extend the Andean Trade Preference Act, to grant additional trade benefits under that Act, and for other purposes. Vote to pass a bill that would enlarge duty-free status to particular products from Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, renew the president's fast-track authority and reauthorize and increase a program to make accessible retraining and relocation assistance to U.S. workers hurt by trade agreements. It would also approve a five-year extension of Generalized System of Preferences and produce a refundable 70 percent tax credit for health insurance costs for displaced workers.
Bill HR.3009 ; vote number 2002-130 on May 23, 2002

Voted YES on granting normal trade relations status to Vietnam.

Vote to grant annual normal trade relations status to Vietnam. The resolution would allow Vietnamese imports to receive the same tariffs as those of other U.S. trading partners.
Bill HJRES51 ; vote number 2001-291 on Oct 3, 2001

Voted YES on removing common goods from national security export rules.

Vote to provide the president the authority to control the export of sensitive dual-use items for national security purposes. The bill would eliminate restrictions on the export of technology that is readily available in foreign markets.
Bill S149 ; vote number 2001-275 on Sep 6, 2001

Voted YES on permanent normal trade relations with China.

Vote to give permanent Normal Trade Relations [NTR] status to China. Currently, NTR status for China is debated and voted on annually.
Bill HR.4444 ; vote number 2000-251 on Sep 19, 2000

Voted YES on expanding trade to the third world.

Vote to expand trade with more than 70 countries in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. The countries would be required to meet certain eligibility requirements in protecting freedoms of expression and associatio
Bill HR.434 ; vote number 2000-98 on May 11, 2000

Voted YES on renewing 'fast track' presidential trade authority.

Vote to proceed to the bill which establishes negotiating objectives for trade agreements, and renews 'fast track' trade authority for the President, which allows Congress to adopt or to reject a proposed trade agreement, but not to amend it.
Bill S 1269 ; vote number 1997-294 on Nov 5, 1997

Voted YES on imposing trade sanctions on Japan for closed market.

Resolution supporting sanctions on Japanese products if car parts markets don't open up; and seeking sharp reductions in the trade imbalances in car sales and parts through elimination of restrictive Japanese market-closing practices.
Bill S Res 118 ; vote number 1995-158 on May 9, 1995

Free & fair trade is key to economic growth .

Graham signed the Senate New Democrat Coalition letter to Pres.-Elect Bush:

Dear President-Elect Bush,

Members of the Senate New Democrat Coalition and the House New Democrat Coalition [are] pro-growth, technology-oriented Democrats; we believe that the key to economic growth is the expansion of free and fair trade. We have provided the Democratic votes on key trade bills in the past, including the recently signed China trade bill, and the Africa and Caribbean trade initiative. We believe that granting Fast Track trading authority to the President of the United States for expansion of trade in the Americas is the next frontier. Many of our New Democrats supported Fast Track authority when President Clinton proposed it, and are inclined to support Fast Track authority should you propose it. However, in order to ensure a stronger bipartisan coalition than the one we have been able to assemble for previous free trade agreements, we need to work with you and your Administration on provisions that will provide for reasonable consideration of issues relating to labor and the environment. We also need to continue to expand the “winner’s circle” both domestically and abroad.

Source: Senate New Democrat Coalition letter to Pres.-Elect Bush 01-SNDC3 on Jan 11, 2001

Quick vote on PNTR; China into WTO.

Graham signed a letter to Congressional Leaders on PNTR:

Dear Leaders:

We are writing to urge you to bring legislation granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status to China to the floor prior to the July 4th recess. It is important that we maintain the momentum that accompanied the passage of this legislation in the House.

In view of the unique legislative situation and the importance of avoiding a conference, we will work with the mangers of the bill to defeat all amendments. While we recognize the importance of Senate prerogatives and the right of each Member to offer amendments, this legislation merits a bipartisan effort to pass the bill as it has been sent to us from the House.

PNTR will give U.S. businesses and workers an opportunity to participate in the world’s fastest growing economy and ensure that the United States reaps the benefits that were negotiated last fall in the U.S./China World Trade Organization (WTO) Accession agreement. Access to China’s enormous population will help sustain American economic growth. In addition, having China in the WTO will force them to play by the rules of the international trade system.

With the continued strength of the U.S. economy and our leadership at stake, we pledge our support to this vital legislative initiative. Please know that we stand ready to assist you in this effort in any way.

Source: Letter to Congressional Leaders on PNTR 01-SNDC4 on Jun 6, 2000

Rated 42% by CATO, indicating a mixed record on trade issues.

Graham scores 42% by CATO on senior issues

The mission of the Cato Institute Center for Trade Policy Studies is to increase public understanding of the benefits of free trade and the costs of protectionism.

The Cato Trade Center focuses not only on U.S. protectionism, but also on trade barriers around the world. Cato scholars examine how the negotiation of multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade agreements can reduce trade barriers and provide institutional support for open markets. Not all trade agreements, however, lead to genuine liberalization. In this regard, Trade Center studies scrutinize whether purportedly market-opening accords actually seek to dictate marketplace results, or increase bureaucratic interference in the economy as a condition of market access.

Studies by Cato Trade Center scholars show that the United States is most effective in encouraging open markets abroad when it leads by example. The relative openness and consequent strength of the U.S. economy already lend powerful support to the worldwide trend toward embracing open markets. Consistent adherence by the United States to free trade principles would give this trend even greater momentum. Thus, Cato scholars have found that unilateral liberalization supports rather than undermines productive trade negotiations.

Scholars at the Cato Trade Center aim at nothing less than changing the terms of the trade policy debate: away from the current mercantilist preoccupation with trade balances, and toward a recognition that open markets are their own reward.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: CATO website 02n-CATO on Dec 31, 2002

Other candidates on Free Trade: Bob Graham on other issues:
George W. Bush
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Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts