On Peru and Free Trade, New York Times is Right

By November 7, 2007Trade

Today’s New York Times editorial, “Pass the Peruvian F.T.A.,” targets just a small group of potential readers, Democratic House members facing a vote on implementing the U.S.-Peru FTA.

Democrats are right to worry about the stagnation of workers’ wages and to be concerned about those who lose their jobs because of increased competition from cheaper labor overseas. But these problems should be addressed through better education and training, a more robust social safety network and more progressive taxation to mitigate the impact of stagnating wages. Throttling trade would hurt more people than it would help.

The Peruvian deal would help expand trade between Peru and the United States, which today stands at about $9 billion. It would give American businesses greater access to Peru’s markets in everything from grains to tractors and other machinery.

Perhaps more important, the agreement would strengthen an essential ally in the combat against illegal narcotics in the Andes and tighten relations with one of the United States’ few remaining friends in South America — where Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez is gaining allies by spreading oil wealth around. In an open letter, all eight living former secretaries of state urged Congress to approve the Peru deal.

Bottom line to the Times: the agreement “is likely to boost American jobs and help relations with an ally in a challenging region of the world.” We agree entirely.

Of all the major newspapers in the United States, The New York Times has the most reflexively anti-business, anti-market, pro-big-government editorial page. It takes a powerful case to overcome the Times’ hostility toward the marketplace and competition. Obviously the Peru agreement represents just such a powerful case.

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