A Voice for Manufacturing in Pennsylvania

By January 26, 2007Briefly Legal, Health Care, Trade

This week’s “America’s Business” radio program features NAM Board Member Kirk Liddell taking to the “The Soapbox,” calling for solutions to the asbestos litigation crisis still crippling many U.S. manufacturers. (Kirk is the head of the NAM’s board-level Legal Issue Policy Group.)

As CEO and Chairman of Irex Corp. in Lancaster, Pa., Kirk is a vocal advocate for manufacturing and the Keystone State. Well-respected by his peers, he was elected chairman of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

In light of his new position, the latest Central Penn Business Journal publishes an interview with Kirk. He focuses on health care but touches on trade issues, as well, timely comments given President Bush’s anticipated request for renewed fast-track authority.

CPBJ: Does the chamber have a position on free-trade deals that come with conditions, such as protecting U.S. jobs or embracing certain environmental standards?

Liddell: Not the state chamber. The state chamber would take the position that the states should not be setting international trade policy. I happen to be on the National Association of Manufacturers’ executive committee, and I can tell you that it’s a huge issue there. Both the U.S. chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers are strongly free trade.

The fair-trade argument (is) “I’m for free trade, but it’s got to have all these strings.” My own personal view is that most of those strings actually end up hurting the people we think we’re helping. I think we should care about people and try to help the poor of the world. (The) best thing we can do for the poor of the world is free trade.

Good comments, good interview, and congratulations on your new leadership role at the Chamber!