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Mitt Romney on Free Trade

Former Republican Governor (MA); presidential nominee-apparent


Huge opportunity in Latin America; focus there, not China

I will get America working again and see rising take-home pay again. And I'll do it with five simple steps:
  1. North American energy independence.
  2. Increase our trade. Trade grows about 12% per year. It doubles about every five or so years. We can do better than that, particularly in Latin America. The opportunities for us in Latin America we have just not taken advantage of fully. As a matter of fact, Latin America's economy is almost as big as the economy of China. We're all focused on China. Latin America is a huge opportunity for us: time zone, language opportunities.
  3. Have training programs that work for our workers and schools that finally put the parents and the teachers and the kids first, and the teachers union's going to have to go behind.
  4. Get to a balanced budget.
  5. And finally, we've got to champion small business. Small business is where jobs come from.
Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate , Oct 22, 2012

China wants a stable world too; we can partner with them

OBAMA: China's both an adversary but also a potential partner in the international community if it's following the rules. We had a tire case in which they were flooding us with cheap Chinese tires. We put a stop to it and, as a consequence, saved jobs throughout America. Gov. Romney criticized me for being too tough in that tire case, said this wouldn't be good for American workers and that it would be protectionist. But I tell you, those workers don't feel that way.

ROMNEY: China has an interest that's very much like ours in one respect, and that is they want a stable world. They don't want war. They don't want to see protectionism. They have about 20 million people coming out of the farms every year, coming into the cities, needing jobs. So they want the economy to work and the world to be free and open. And so we can be a partner with China. We don't have to be an adversary in any way, shape or form. We can work with them. We can collaborate with them if they're willing to be responsible.

Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate , Oct 22, 2012

China is winning in the trade war right now

Q: Is China the greatest future threat to national security?

ROMNEY: We'll make sure that we have trade relations with China that work for us. That's why on day one I will label them a currency manipulator.

Q: If you declare them a currency manipulator on day one, some people are saying you're just going to start a trade war with China on day one.

ROMNEY: Well, they sell us about this much stuff every year. So it's pretty clear who doesn't want a trade war. And there's one going on right now that we don't know about. It's a silent one and they're winning. We have an enormous trade imbalance with China. And it's worse this year than last year. And it was worse last year than the year before. We have to say to our friends in China, look, you guys are playing aggressively, but this can't keep on going. You can't keep on holding down the value of your currency, stealing our intellectual property, counterfeiting our products, selling them even into the US.

Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate , Oct 22, 2012

Make sure people we trade with play by the rules

Q: The outsourcing of American jobs overseas has taken a toll on our economy. What plans do you have to put back and keep jobs here in the US?

ROMNEY: The place where we've seen manufacturing go has been China. A half a million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last four years. One of the reasons for that is that people think it's more attractive in some cases to go offshore than to stay here. We have made it less attractive for enterprises to stay here than to go offshore from time to time. One of the ways China doesn't play by the rules is artificially holding down the value of their currency. On day one, I will label China a currency manipulator, which will allow me as president to be able to put in place, if necessary, tariffs where I believe that they are taking unfair advantage of our manufacturers. So we're going to make sure that people we trade with around the world play by the rules, but also make America the most attractive place in the world for businesses of all kinds.

Source: Second Obama-Romney 2012 debate , Oct 16, 2012

Open new markets to grow; but also enforce fair trade

Q: Big endorsement from Donald Trump today.

A: Very pleased. He shares my concern about China; the fact that China has been able to run roughshod over many industries in this country. Presidents have complained about it, but really haven't taken action to stop China from taking away our jobs.

Q: How do we get fair trade practice without starting some type of a trade war or protectionism?

A: Well, you have to open up new markets. A highly productive nation like ours has to have new markets to sell goods to in order to continue to grow. But if one of those markets, one of those countries begins to cheat on the agreement and to unfairly attack our markets and kill jobs here, you have to say whoa, you got to live by the rules of fair trade. And I know some people are concern that if we hold China accountable that they will fight back and begin a trade war. But don't forget, they sell a heck of a lot more stuff to us than we sell to them. They don't want a trade war any more than we do.

Source: Sean Hannity 2012 presidential interviews "Hannity Primary" , Feb 3, 2012

China's steel dumping forced US mills to close

PERRY: I visited Georgetown SC. It was one of those towns where there was a steel mill that Bain swept in, they picked that company over and a lot of people lost jobs there.

ROMNEY: Gov. Perry makes a very good point about Georgetown. It was a steel mill and my firm invested in that steel mill and another one in Kansas City, tried to make them successful, for 7 or 8 years. And ultimately what happened from abroad, dumping steel into this country lead to some 40 different steel mills being closed. And that was one of those. I understand what happens when China cheats, or when others cheat and dump products into this country. That's one of the reasons I'm running is to make sure we crack down on cheaters. By the way, we also started a new steel mill with new technology in Indiana. That one's growing and thriving. I think that experience is what America needs in a president.

Source: Fox News debate on MLK Day in Myrtle Beach, SC , Jan 16, 2012

We have to open up markets to America's goods

We have to open up markets for America's goods, as the most productive people in the world, more output per person from an American than anywhere else in the world. We have to open up markets for our goods. We haven't done that under this president.

European nations and China over the last three years have opened up 44 different trade relationships with various nations in the world. This president has opened up none.

We have to open up trade. We have to take advantage of our extraordinary energy resources. At the same time, we're going to have to do something aboutwt the regulations in this country.

As a party, we talk about deregulation, what we're really shorthanding is that we want to change old regulations that are crushing enterprise and put in place those that encourage enterprise. I understand how the economy works, because I've lived in it.

I know what regulations kill and which regulations help enterprise. And I want to use the expertise to get America working again.

Source: WMUR 2012 GOP New Hampshire debate , Jan 7, 2012

If America fails to protect against China, we'll be eclipsed

Romney said, "The economic rise of China and other countries across Asia poses a different type of challenge. China and the rest of Asia are on the move economically and technologically. They are a family-oriented, educated, hardworking, and mercantile people. Trade and commerce with these huge new economies can further strengthen our economy and propel our growth. If America fails to act, we will be eclipsed. We have to keep our markets open or we go the way of Russia and the Soviet Union, which is a collapse. And I recognize there are some people who will argue for protectionism because the short-term benefits sound pretty good, but long term you kill your economy, you kill the future."

Conclusion: Tough, blunt talk. Do not look for this president to call for protectionist trade policies. Instead, look for him to be a promoter of the free trade and a champion of innovation.

Source: An Inside Look, by R.B.Scott, p.217 , Nov 22, 2011

Trade with China only if they follow international rules

China has an interest in trade. China has 20 million people coming out of the farms and coming into the cities every year, they want to be able to put them to work. They want to have access to global markets. And so we have right now something they need very badly, which is access to our market and our friends around the world, we have that power over China. To make sure that we let them understand that in order for them to continue to have free and open access to the thing they want so badly, our markets, they have to play by the rules.

They can't hack into our computer systems and steal from our government. They can't steal patents and designs from corporations. And they also can't manipulate their currency in such a way as to make their prices well below what they otherwise would be.

We have to have China understand that like everybody else on the world stage, they have to play by the rules. And if they do, we'll have open trade with them and work with them.

Source: 2011 debate in South Carolina on Foreign Policy , Nov 12, 2011

Go to WTO about China; we're already in a trade war

Q: How can the US make China follow the rules of international trade?

Romney: Well number one, on day one, it's acknowledging something which everyone knows, they're a currency manipulator. And on that basis, we also go before the W.T.O. [World Trade Organization] and bring an action against them as a currency manipulator. And that allows us to apply, selectively, tariffs where we believe they are stealing our intellectual property, hacking into our computers, or artificially lowering their prices and killing American jobs. We can't just sit back and let China run all over People say, "Well, you'll start a trade war." There's one going on right now, folks. They're stealing our jobs. And we're going to stand up to China.

Source: 2011 debate in South Carolina on Foreign Policy , Nov 12, 2011

China is a currency manipulator; go after them for cheating

ROMNEY [on videotape]: I will label China as it is, a currency manipulator, and I will go after them for stealing our intellectual property, and they will recognize that if they cheat, there is a price to pay. I certainly don't want a trade war with anybody, and we're not going to have a trade war, but we can't have a trade surrender either.

Q: [to Huntsman]: You were ambassador to China, and you say that this would risk a trade war. But if China is indeed keeping its currency low, that means tha everything they sell in this country is artificially cheap and everything that our companies try to sell in China is artificially expensive. So what do you say to people who ask, aren't we already in a trade war with China?

HUNTSMAN: I don't subscribe to the Mitt Romney school of international trade. I don't want to find ourselves in a trade war. With respect to China, if you start slapping penalties on them based on countervailing duties, you're going to get the same thing in return

Source: 2011 GOP debate at Dartmouth College, NH , Oct 11, 2011

China doesn't want to have a trade war; so push hard

Q: Candidates have talked tough on China before--George W. Bush did it, Barack Obama did it--but once elected, the president takes a much more cautious approach.

A: They have been played like a fiddle by the Chinese. And the Chinese are smiling all the way to the bank, taking our currency and taking our jobs and taking a lot of our future. And I'm not willing to let that happen. We've got to call cheating for what it is.

Q: Isn't that risking a trade war?

A: Well, now, think about that. We buy this much stuff from China; they buy that much stuff from us. You think they want to have a trade war? This is a time when we're being hollowed out by China that is artificially holding down their prices. On day one, I will issue an executive order identifying China as a currency manipulator. We'll bring an action against them in front of the WTO for manipulating their currency. If you're not willing to stand up to China, you'll get run over by China. And that's what's happened for 20 years.

Source: 2011 GOP debate at Dartmouth College, NH , Oct 11, 2011

Trade is good for the nation, but not good for everybody

US companies faced with innovative and less costly products from overseas have to make one of two choices. They can invest in new technologies, innovations, and productivity improvements themselves and beat the foreign competition at its own game--a process that often requires unions and suppliers to make adjustments.

Alternatively, US companies can argue for protection, hold on as long as possible, and slowly watch their market share wane

The case for trade makes good economic sense--trade improves the wages and standard of living for the average citizen. But trade can disrupt and devastate those individuals directly affected. Owners and shareholders may lose money, of course. But it is the employees and managers, from the shop floor to the drifting tables to delivery trucks, who take the brunt of the pain. Trade is good for the nation and for the average citizen, but it is decidedly not good for everybody.

Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.114-115 , Mar 2, 2010

Protectionism stifles productivity, under Bush AND Obama

When a country has artificially held down the value of its currency, we must act. Government should also act to stem dangerous foreign environmental policies and to block products produced by child labor. In some cases, an industry may request short-term --VERY short-term--breathing room so that it can adjust to new competitive threat. Such requests should be granted only when it's clear that the affected American industry can and will act decisively to regain a truly competitive position. But for every request for protection or subsidy that is warranted, a hundred or more others are not. The Bush administration's decision to protect the US steel industry is a case in point--I agree with those who have concluded that it did more harm than good. Pres. Obama's action to defend American tire companies from foreign competition may make good politics by repaying unions for their support of his campaign, but it is decidedly bad for the nation and our workers. Protectionism stifles productivity.
Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.119 , Mar 2, 2010

Re-negotiate trade deals with China and other countries

I understand why jobs come and why jobs go. Iíve done business in over 20 countries around the world, and I understand how we can build more strength in our own economy and thatís by investing in education, investing in technology and innovation, getting ourselves off of foreign oil, and making sure that the playing field we play on around the world is level. Itís not right now. Weíre going to have to re-negotiate deals with people like those in China that manipulate their currency to put their products in advantage over ours. We want to make sure that we do not have a circumstance where people close down their markets to our goods because we can compete anywhere in the world. One out of three agricultural acres is planted to go off-shore, so donít put up barriers to keep us from being able to trade. The US can compete anywhere in the world, and to remain a superpower, we must compete around the world.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate , Dec 12, 2007

Open up markets to American goods and services

Q: Are you a Bush Republican on trade?

A: Well, I believe in trade, but I believe in opening up markets to American goods and services. And itís been calculated that the average family in America is $9,000 a year richer because we have the ability to sell products around the world, and a lot of people in this country make their living making products that go around the world. I want to make sure that the American worker gets a fair shake. We need to make sure that the Chinese begin to float their currency, and they protect our designs and our patents and our technology. We need to make sure that the American workers donít have to carry the burden of extra taxes as we sell our products around the world. They come here without that tax embedded. We can do a better job, and I want to do a better job for the American worker.

Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan , Oct 9, 2007

Businesspeople should negotiate trade, not politicians

The people who negotiate these agreements, the people who sit down with the Chinese and sit down with the Mexicans and others, are people, by and large, whoíve spent their life in politics, and the politicians come together and try and understand how the economy works.

I think Iím probably the only guy on the stage whoís spent most of his career in the business world. I understand how the economy works. I understand how if you make a certain adjustment in the agreement, itís going to have a huge impact on the United States.

And so for instance, if we agree to sit down with China, I understand that if we donít get real careful and protect patents and designs and technology, intellectual property is going to get stolen by the Chinese. I recognize weíre going to have to have people who understand how the business world works, how the economy works, and make sure that the playing field really is level by having people that understand the economy and the business world being part of that effort.

Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan , Oct 9, 2007

Emergence of Asia is an opportunity for trade and commerce

To remain the economic and military superpower, America must address competing with Asia. China and Asia are on the move economically and technologically. They are a family oriented, educated, hard-working, and mercantile people. We must be ready and able to compete. If America acts boldly and swiftly, the emergence of Asia will be an opportunity. Trade and commerce with these huge new economies can further strengthen our economy and propel our growth. If America fails to act, we will be eclipsed.
Source: PAC website, www.TheCommonwealthPac.com, ďMeet MittĒ , Dec 1, 2006

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Free Trade.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Mitt Romney.
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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
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George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2014