Mr. President, a Good Statement on Trade. Let’s Hear it Again Today

By September 15, 2009Labor Unions, Trade

From the President’s speech yesterday in New York City on financial regulation:

A healthy economy in the 21st century also depends on our ability to buy and sell goods in markets across the globe. And make no mistake, this administration is committed to pursuing expanded trade and new trade agreements. It is absolutely essential to our economic future. And each time that we have met — at the G20 and the G8 — we have reaffirmed the need to fight against protectionism. But no trading system will work if we fail to enforce our trade agreements, those that have already been signed. So when — as happened this weekend — we invoke provisions of existing agreements, we do so not to be provocative or to promote self-defeating protectionism, we do so because enforcing trade agreements is part and parcel of maintaining an open and free trading system.

Our emphasis. And agreed on trade’s importance to the U.S. economy. But statements and speeches are not sufficient evidence of a commitment. How about actually putting some political muscle behind Congressional enactment of the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements? Steny Hoyer will be with you.

And we anxiously await the President reaffirming his Administration’s commitment to trade when he speaks to the AFL-CIO today in Pittsburgh. We suggest this language: “It is time for Congress to enact the Panama and Colombia FTAs.” If that’s too much to ask, the President can simply restate the above paragraph.

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