Mitt Romney on Free Trade
Former Republican Governor (MA); presidential nominee-apparent
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
States' commitments under CAFTA:
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) compiled a list of the status of each of the 50 states with regards to CAFTA procurement. For states that have rescinded their commitment, we infer that the incumbent governor strongly opposes CAFTA (because the state made a commitment and then un-made it). For states that declined to commit, we infer that the incumbent governor somewhat opposes CAFTA. For states that committed, we infer that the incumbent governor supports CAFTA.
CAFTA is the Central American Free Trade Agreement. CAFTA expands NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement, between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico) to five Central American nations (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua), and the Dominican Republic. It passed Congress on July 27, 2005.
Opposition to CAFTA procurement rules (by Public Citizen): Should an international trade agreement determine how we are allowed to spend our domestic tax dollars? Prior to the passage of CAFTA, the majority of state governments agreed: Subjecting decisions about how to spend state taxpayer dollars to second-guessing by foreign trade tribunals is a bad idea! As a result, a bi-partisan group of governors withdrew their initial agreement to bind their states to comply with CAFTA's procurement rules. Many other governors simply avoided binding their states to CAFTA's procurement rules in the first place. Common state economic development and environmental policies are prohibited by trade agreement procurement rules include:
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