Freer trade will only help Georgia

The goods shipped to and from Savannah's port all boost Georgia's economy. (AJC Photo / Brant Sanderlin)

The goods shipped to and from Savannah’s port all boost Georgia’s economy. (AJC Photo / Brant Sanderlin)

In 2002, both of Georgia’s Democratic senators voted to give President George W. Bush “fast track” authority to negotiate trade deals. In 2015, both of Georgia’s Republican senators voted to give President Barack Obama the same.

If there’s one thing that historically has produced bipartisanship, it’s free trade. And if there’s one state that ought to understand why, it’s Georgia.

High on Obama’s remaining to-do list is completing a trade deal with 11 other countries around the Pacific rim. Markets such as Japan and Australia would be more open to American-made products, while their products would be more accessible to American consumers. Tearing down trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas allows companies to compete on their own merits. Over time, that has helped more of our companies and workers than it has hurt.

Our state is particularly well-positioned to benefit from a trans-Pacific trade deal. We still make and grow things, and our position as the crossroads of the Southeast means we benefit from imports as well as exports. (Not that imports are a bad thing. But for those keeping score, Savannah’s port has handled more exports than imports in each of the past five years.)

One in 12 Georgia jobs is related to trade, according to data from the Georgia Ports Authority. Federal data indicate more than one-third of our exports already go to the 11 countries negotiating the trans-Pacific deal; that number should only grow once it’s signed.

By far, the best way to liberalize trade is through treaties among many countries at once. That puts more markets on equal legal footing. Otherwise, companies face different trading rules depending on where they’re doing business.

Fast-track authority, which merely allows the president to bring a negotiated deal to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no amendments, finally passed the Senate late last week without the support of most Senate Democrats, who earlier blocked its path. Some of the obstructionists, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, sound as if they’re just as interested in exporting our labor and environmental regulations as they are in exporting our goods.

That’s a shame, because Democrats’ track record on trade is solid. The first multilateral trade deals were completed under the Truman administration. The “Kennedy round” of talks brought many more countries into the global trading system, eliminating tens of billions of dollars in tariffs. Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Now, however, Hillary Clinton seems willing to kowtow to the populist Warren wing of the party. So much for the “reality-based community.” Trade deals aren’t going to go away; the question is whether the U.S. will participate in them.

China is eager to expand its own network of friendly trading nations. The European Union, itself a free-trade zone, has been signing its own series of deals. A trans-Atlantic trade deal between the U.S. and the EU is also in the works, another agreement Georgians should support; our firms last year shipped $7.6 billion in goods, or 19 percent of the state’s exports, to Europe.

From kaolin to cotton, poultry to paper, carpet to chemicals, Georgia’s industries are competitive. We haven’t lost our edge. Let’s hope Congress hasn’t lost its nerve.

Reader Comments 0

43 comments
Laurie8750
Laurie8750

Don't kid yourself.  These type agreements allow more US corporations to offshore white collar jobs to Asia.  

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Some of the obstructionists, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, sound as if they’re just as interested in exporting our labor and environmental regulations as they are in exporting our goods.

Can someone explain why that would be a Bad Thing to do?

If there's to be a "level playing field," make it actually somewhat level for a change.

MHSmith
MHSmith

If we really want to make the U.S. competitive in markets around the world lets start by lower corporate taxes to match China?


Or better @,  or below that of  Ireland?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@MHSmith How much lower can they go from zero ?


Putting aside all the giveaways and subsidies.


Heck Georgia gives Gulfstream about 50 million a year they don't need

Juanx
Juanx

This is more about retaining manufacturing jobs here in America than objecting to the TPP just for the sake of "Democrat Obstruction". When one travel through towns with boarded up plants that have not recovered from companies having moved their products overseas, it is depressing. As a purchasing consumer rarely do I see a label that says "Made In America". And too many products from China are less than stellar. Let Congress and President Obama include language in this TPP that will protect jobs for America, and not proceed as we have in the past.

MHSmith
MHSmith

With Free Trade deficits consistently running  out the yin and yang, there are people willing to claim this is good for the U.S.?! 


No way!



Where are the U.S. trade surpluses... IN LIKE KIND ?!




Let me know when the U.S. achieves a $315 billion trade surplus with China ? 





cw1960
cw1960

The "corporate sovereignty" and IP provisions in these TPP and TTIP treaties are a direct threat to our Constitutional rights. We will most certainly and officially become the Corporate States of America.  Of course, this pleases the GOP as it accomplishes everything they desire. If you actually believe these treaties will benefit anybody but the 1% and Wall Street, you're seriously deluded. And don't give me that "trickle down" bull****, either.  

Renteroo
Renteroo

@cw1960 I got news for ya - we already are the Corporate States of America.  We have the best / worst government money can buy.  Citizens United was the final nail in the coffin.  There appears to be no political will to change it at all. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150520/OPINION02/150529978


Bernie Sanders gives a pretty good rundown of how bad this deal is for Americans. 


The TPP continues an approach toward trade that forces Americans to compete against workers in Vietnam, where the minimum wage is 56 cents an hour, independent labor unions are banned and people are thrown in jail for expressing political beliefs. This is not “free trade.” 


I would think you guys who don't believe in a minimum wage or any other pesky Govt regulations would be all for this idea. 


I guess its just Obama = Bad.


Well on this I agree. Obama = Bad ( because of the details ) 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar If you think American workers aren't already competing with those in Vietnam -- just on worse terms -- then you're probably the kind of person who thinks Bernie Sanders makes sense.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Is Japan going to get rid if their high tariffs on US goods as part of this deal ?


I highly doubt it. 

PJ25
PJ25

The future is bright, assuming you want to be a truck driver or work for the railroads. 

Dusty2
Dusty2

Rafe


I understand your worries about this trade policy.  Even as we distrust policies given by the president, I think this one should benefit the country.  We should not be blind to that.  I don't think we can stand as an isolated castle of fine products and not exchange them freely with the world.  If the imports are not to our liking, we will not buy them or use them.  Already we have carmakers who come from other countries, not the same thing but close..  Seems to me it is only natural that we should have a world wide exchange, the next inevitable change in a modern world.   

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Dusty2 The devil is in the details, and those are secret.  Pass the bill to find out what is in it, hasn't worked out too well in the past.  

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@RafeHollister @Dusty2 You have to understand how the process works. The president first has to finish negotiating the deal with his counterparts. This is always done behind closed doors -- as tends to be true of negotiations -- and will be expedited with fast-track authority. THEN the deal will be agreed by the 12 countries and the details made public. THEN Congress will take the up-or-down vote.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Kyle_Wingfield @RafeHollister @Dusty2 You have more faith or optimism that the deal will be scuttled if it is bad.  I think our politicians can rationalize any harmful part of the deal, in order to insure the benefits to their donor class, i.e., the Chamber of Commerce, Wall St, and huge corporations.  The people will be out bid.


It is not free trade unless you inhibit some countries from manipulating their currency to our disadvantage.  BO knows baseball, Obama don't know squat about business, so why do we have him negotiating the deal.  Put someone like Buffett or Trump or Bill Gates in charge and maybe we will not get taken, as we usually do.  

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Boehner is such a hypocrite on this TPP.  He rightly told Obama on "comprehensive" immigration reform that his folks wouldn't support it, because Obama had shown on numerous occasions that he couldn't be trusted, as he had sought to work around Congress and not enforce laws as they were written.


Now when Obama is advocating policy that he supports, he has no reservations about Obama's intentions.  He and Obama are holding hands and singing the same song.  Hopefully the Tea Party conservative folks will scuttle this deal.

Renteroo
Renteroo

@RafeHollister At least you finally recognize GOP hypocrisy. Thank you for saying it out loud.

Dusty2
Dusty2

Kyle,


You have given us a most sensible report here.  If there are real drawbacks, I can't see them. USA is still thought to make and produce the best products in the world.  On that premise alone, we should have far greater exports which is certainly to our advantage.   


If there are drawbacks, we can overcome them.  Nothing is perfect.   

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

The danger of the TPP was from freedoms that would be given away.  If those parts of the TPP are gone, then I"m fine with expanding trade agreements. 


However, the rumor that the TPP is not public, and basically the same process that congress used to investigate Benghazi (secure computers in a separate area, no cell phones, no taking notes) makes me suspect that something else is going on, and not just expanded trade. 

If it's classified and we won't know what's in it until it's passed, then I see Americans giving up more freedoms with this bill. 


MHSmith
MHSmith

No thanks Kyle, we've been over this a hundred times and nothing has changed. 


Mirrored trade policies are what this country needs to negotiate for from our trading partners. We open our market to these Asian countries as they open their market to the U.S. 


What is free when government CONTROLS - REGULATES, via treaties, the rules of the market. Again Kyle your idea of free really ain't FREE.  


But, hey if Bill Clinton can have his own definition of what is, "IS" then follow your NAFTA president at his best. LOL  

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MHSmith "Mirrored trade policies are what this country needs to negotiate for from our trading partners. We open our market to these Asian countries as they open their market to the U.S. "

Um, that's what a trade deal does.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

drug companies want to extend their patents on prescription drugs, thus delaying the introduction of cheaper generic drugs — a major cost to all of us, especially workers and retirees.


multinational agricultural corporations want to eliminate "country of origin" labeling of food imports and reduce inspection of those imports. Wall Street wants a rollback of some provisions of the Dodd-Frank law, which was legislation passed after the Wall Street banks crashed our economy.


Global corporations of all sorts want elimination of "Buy American" and "Buy Local" laws for goods and services paid for with our tax money.


http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/tpp-trade-deal-is-bad-news-for-most-americans-b99486012z1-301277181.html


This is what the TPP is really all about



Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar Hilarious that someone who almost certainly pushed for "card check" is now complaining that votes by Congress are somehow "undemocratic."

MHSmith
MHSmith

@HeadleyLamar


Look to your beloved FDA  married to Big Pharm on that one. The majority of all drugs sold or that can be sold in America are from India or China the rest are from places like Israel.  


Why can't these SAME FDA approved drugs being sold abroad be purchased in the U.S. for the same low prices? 


FREE MARKET? 


BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   

MarkVV
MarkVV

The resistance of congressional Democrats to tearing down trade barriers is a kind of isolationism that should be abandoned as a matter of the past. Even considering some of the best intentions, such as concerns about the environment, they should realize that in a world with global trading as it is now, those aspects should be addressed differently.

While vastly different subjects, this matter has one thing in common with the resistance of the Republicans to the paid maternity and illness leave – they both are like trying to stop departure of a train that has left the station already. No matter how much either side delays the change, that change is inevitable.

MHSmith
MHSmith

@HeadleyLamar


NAFTA, CAFTA and anything here AFTA. 


American has got a raw deal out of these so-called "Free Trade" deals.


NAFTA e.g. the US was supposed to get a $10 billion trade surplus instead we got a $70 billion trade deficit.


What kind of convoluted mirror was used for this NAFTA trade deal  Kyle? One those used in the carnivals that warp and distort reality?


Um... and then again Um. 





TicTacs
TicTacs

No way this help GA workers.  Do you want a cracker ?

Caius
Caius

Are there enough Republican votes in the House to pass the bill the Senate passed?  From Politico:


"So far, about 40 to 45 of the 245 House Republicans, most of them in the far-right wing, are hard “nos” on a bill their own party leaders support as fervently as Obama, according to the independent assessments of three House aides. If they are able to boost their numbers by even a handful of votes, it would imperil the legislation, which passed the Senate late Friday, because Democrats are expected to provide at most 25 “yeas” toward the 217 votes needed for passage."

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

I think you are being naive on this one Kyle, too much trust in Obama to do the right thing.  His ideology is always front and center in everything he is involved in.  I suspect there are several significant things we are unaware of  that are in the deal or will be added to the deal after the fast track authority is approved.  Yes, it can be voted down later, but when the money is lying on the table, politicians notice how much is going to their state, and suddenly lose their principals and find reasons to ignore the poison parts included with the money.  Hard to vote things down once everyone is on-board and the media is all aflutter with predictions of prosperity.


This can wait for 2017 and a new negotiator. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@RafeHollister Congress still has to approve the deal that's negotiated. It just can't amend it. There won't be a deal without fast-track authority, because the other nations won't sign if Congress can amend it.

And remember, if Hillary is elected in 2016 then "wait for 2017" doesn't work.