California’s Politicians Should Step Up on Trade

By February 11, 2008Trade

In today’s Los Angeles Times, a column by Andrés Martinez, “California’s wimps in D.C.”

Free trade’s benefit to the country as a whole may be open to debate, but there is no doubt that California stands to gain from it. So why are the state’s political leaders so squeamish about standing up for free trade in Washington?

California has twin engines of ingenuity — Hollywood and the Silicon Valley — and continued trade liberalization is crucial to keep both running. These industries face more daunting market barriers — the absurdly low number of foreign films allowed in China’s cinemas is a good example — than do traditional industrial manufacturers, which already have benefited from many rounds of tariff reductions. Trade pacts are starting to address U.S. intellectual property concerns too, another reason California’s key industries (we could add biotech to the list) can ill-afford a loss of momentum on trade liberalization.

Martinez is a senior fellow at The New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank of the vital center. Atlantic Magazine journalist James Fallows, who is on the board, wrote about the foundation recently, noting the Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, is the new chairman of the board of directors.

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