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Jesse Ventura on Free Trade

Former Independent MN Governor


NAFTA reservations: Mexican labor conditions & US job loss

Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, hundreds of factories called maquiladoras have sprung up. There they make goods on the cheap and ship them back across the border.

President Clinton predicted this would be a boon to everyone. It certainly has been for the corporations, which have cut back their labor costs and increased their profits. Thousands of workers from Mexico's poorest southern states make the equivalent of little more than $4 a day. But it's better than having no job at all.

I'm a staunch capitalist, and I was a big supporter of NAFTA in the beginning. Today, I have a lot of reservations about what it's brought about. NAFTA has resulted in hundreds of thousands of job losses in the US, because employers moved south of the border. Half of the people working in these Mexican maquiladoras are women, and there is also child labor, and long hours, with no right to unionize. They're really nothing more than sweatshops, in a lot of cases.

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 99-100 , Apr 1, 2008

Active role in bringing China into WTO

Interestingly, the University of Minnesota has the largest population of Chinese students of any campus in the US. They'd told me that 80% of their people are still involved in agriculture, but that China's farmland is pretty much maxed out. I thought it would be great if US farmers, in MN and elsewhere, could sell their surpluses to China.

I became a big supporter of bringing China into the World Trade Organization (WTO), something that was also one of President Clinton's foremost concerns. They'd moved from strictly command economy to one where market forces were playing an increasing part, and it was definitely time to break down the remaining trade barriers.

Clinton's administration encouraged me to take an active role, and I'm proud to have been a part of the effort that resulted in China being admitted to the WTO in December 2001. That's how I ended up spending a week in China on a trade mission early the next year. First in Beijing for several days, and then Shanghai.

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.102-103 , Apr 1, 2008

Trade creates jobs & productivity

One out of every eight manufacturing jobs in Minnesota depends on exports. And Iím told that Canadaís manufacturing sector has added 220,000 new jobs since 1995 - making that industry one of the strongest job creating engines in the Canadian economy. So to those critics who talk about lost jobs, I say:
Iím afraid we WILL LOSE jobs - or the opportunity to create job -- if we DONíT encourage Minnesota companies to export.
The U.S. market is only so big - and we canít hide from the fact that the world is our marketplace.
Source: Speech to Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership , Sep 18, 2000

Trading with China is a no-brainer

Trade with China could give the US economy a gigantic shot in the arm. In opening up trade with China, weíd be giving nothing and getting everything. What they sell to us will probably change very little. But what will change dramatically is our access to them. Up until now, they havenít allowed us into their market. Now weíll have access to over a billion new customers. And if we donít move on this opportunity, the rest of the world will. We could end up being the only country not trading with China.

Itís a no-brainer in my opinion. It doesnít mean that anything more will come to us from China, but weíll be selling a huge amount of stuff to them. It will drop tariff rates from 30% down to 10%. In most cases it will be particularly beneficial to our farmers, because China is out of farmland. If US farmers could sell our surplus to China, prices would rise and profit would be enormous.

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.225-6 , Jul 2, 2000

Opening markets will cause Chinaís downfall

People who oppose trade with China are always quick to mention the human rights abuses going on there. I understand that unspeakable human atrocities have happened in China, and youíll never hear me excusing them. Thatís a by-product, it seems, of Communism.

But trade barriers arenít going to do anything to change the human rights situation in China. I think the opposite approach is called for: The best catalyst for change that China could possibly have is to get a taste of the good things democracy can create. By engaging us, and by becoming more associated with our view on human rights, I think theyíll be bringing a flood of new ideas into their country.

I think opening our markets to China will be the ultimate downfall of Chinaís Communism. Because when China gets a taste of what capitalism can allow them to do, its people wonít stand for it anymore. And I think the exposure the Chinese government would get in the WTO would open them up even more to international criticism.

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.228-9 , Jul 2, 2000

Ease Canadian border-crossing rules.

Ventura signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Canadian Border 98-MGC3 on May 12, 1998

Grant fast-track authority to the President.

Ventura signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Agri. Trade 99-MGC4 on Nov 19, 1999

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Free Trade.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Jesse Ventura.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Jesse Ventura.
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Page last updated: Mar 14, 2014