Michael Bennet on Free Trade
Democratic Presidential Challenger; CO Senator
Excerpts from Letter from 31 Senators to the Secretary of Commerce: We write to you regarding countervailing duty and antidumping investigations being conducted by the Department of Commerce on imports of steel reinforcing bar (rebar) from Turkey and Mexico.
Rebar is one of the largest volume steel products produced in the US, employing more than 10,000 workers in over 30 states. With nearly 7 million tons of domestic production, a healthy rebar industry is critical to a strong economy. However, it is our understanding that imports from Turkey and Mexico are surging into the US, nearly doubling from 2011 to 2013.
The ITC recently found that Mexican and Turkish rebar producers are consistently underselling US producers, resulting in substantial lost sales and depressed; [plus] a preliminary finding that the Government of Turkey bestows energy subsidies to its rebar industry, but that such subsidies are only de minimis in value. This seems surprising given the inherently energy-intensive nature of steel production.
Opposing argument: (Heritage Foundation, "Guide to Antidumping Laws", July 21, 1992) One of the pillars of the "fair trade" approach is a set of so-called antidumping and countervailing duty laws. Antidumping laws seek to prevent products manufactured overseas from being sold by foreign firms in the U.S. at "less than fair value." Countervailing duties seek to offset subsidies provided by foreign governments by imposing duties at the U.S. border.
The antidumping laws are confusing and arbitrary, and in many instances merely allow American firms to secure punitive tariffs against competing importers where no unfair trade practices are involved. Worse, these laws drive up the costs of imported components used by other American enterprises, making their products less competitive in world markets. As a result, American consumers pay higher prices for both imported and domestically produced goods.
Heritage Action summary of vote# S206: The Senate voted to table (kill) an amendment by Sen. Kirk to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Sen. Kirk recommends voting NO. Heritage Foundation recommends voting YES because the "Ex-Im Bank is little more than a $140 billion slush fund for corporate welfare."
OnTheIssues explanation: Voting NO would allow a vote on reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. Voting YES would kill the bill for reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank.
Cato Institute reason for voting YES to kill the bill:The Ex-Im Bank's reauthorization buffs contend that Ex-Im fills a void left by private sector lenders unwilling to provide financing for certain transactions. Ex-Im's critics [say that] by effectively superseding risk-based decision-making with the choices of a handful of bureaucrats pursuing political objectives, Ex-Im risks taxpayer dollars. It turns out that for nearly every Ex-Im financing authorization that might advance the fortunes of a single US company, there is at least one US industry whose firms are put at a competitive disadvantage. These are the unseen consequences of Ex-Im's mission.
Summary from Congressional Record and Wikipedia:Vote to amend the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and establish the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Rather than a wholly new agreement, it has been characterized as "NAFTA 2.0"; final terms were negotiated on September 30, 2018 by each country. The agreement is scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2020.
Case for voting YES by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL); (Dec. 19, 2019)The USMCA includes stronger protections for American workers and enforceable labor standards, as well as environmental protections. It eliminates the Trump Administration's threat that the US could walk away entirely from the trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, which would devastate US jobs and our economy.
Case for voting NO by Jared Huffman (D-CA); (Dec. 19, 2019) Democratic negotiators did a lot to improve Donald Trump's weak trade deal, especially in terms of labor standards and enforcement, but the final deal did not reach the high standard that I had hoped for. The NAFTA renegotiations were a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lift labor and environmental standards across the continent--to lock in serious climate commitments with two of our largest trading partners and dramatically improve labor standards and enforcement to slow the rise of outsourcing.
Legislative outcome: Bill Passed (Senate) (89-10-1) - Jan. 16, 2020; bill Passed (House) (385-41-5) - Dec. 19, 2019; signed at the G20 Summit simultaneously by President Trump, Mexican President Enrique Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Nov. 30, 2018
Ratings by USA*Engage indicate support for trade engagement or trade sanctions. The organization's self-description: "USA*Engage is concerned about the proliferation of unilateral foreign policy sanctions at the federal, state and local level. Despite the fact that broad trade-based unilateral sanctions rarely achieve our foreign policy goals, they continue to have political appeal. Unilateral sanctions give the impression that the United States is 'doing something,' while American workers, farmers and businesses absorb the costs."
VoteMatch scoring for the USA*Engage ratings is as follows :
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