Mitt Romney on Free Trade
Former Republican Governor (MA)
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 identifyin 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.
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