Tuesday, June 28, 2005

CAFTA: Good for state, nation, Central America

I am very in favor of trade. All parties gain, except for a few vested interests that oppose change and growth. The opponents always frame their interest in nice words of concern for the environment or claiming that third-world people aren't happy to work for pay that is low to us, but is double what they can otherwise get. The Tacoma News Tribune discovered a Democrat who favors growth - Congressman Norm Dicks of Tacoma; we old timers recall him as a lineman on the UW Huskies football team that won upsets in the Rose Bowl twice over 40 years ago.
[Dicks] recognizes that enacting CAFTA is the right thing to do, both for the country and for this trade-dependent state. But it is far from clear that he will be joined by enough lawmakers to secure the approval of CAFTA, which would ease trade barriers between the United States and six Central American nations. It would be a shame if the treaty ultimately failed to win approval.... What'’s deceptive and disingenuous is the way the arguments against CAFTA are being couched in terms of protecting the very poor workers of Central America. Union leaders and their congressional allies, for example, complain about the fact that the treaty doesn'’t guarantee Central Americans the right to organize. Actually, CAFTA is probably the single best thing this country could do for those workers. If markets were to expand for Central American goods, Central American labor would be worth more, paid more and treated better. Workers would gain more leverage and find it easier to unionize if their employers persisted in exploiting and abusing them.... As Dicks understands, Washington has a big stake in free trade, in Latin America and elsewhere. At least one in four jobs in this state is tied to international trade. Washington farmers and software manufacturers especially stand to gain from free and fair access to Central American markets. But the national payoff transcends commerce. This country'’s poverty-stricken, Central American neighbors have long been opportune targets for anti-yanqui demagogues. The United States has a vital interest in helping build a prosperous Central America that views it as a valuable trading partner. Looking at Dicks' anti-CAFTA colleagues, you have to wonder: Is it really that hard to vote the interests of our state and nation?
I agree!


tradersmith said...

I noticed that Cantwell and Murray voted against the Ds and voted for CAFTA


On a 55-45 vote, the local senators could have made it 51-49. Other politics here?

Ron said...

Anonymous Aaron,

No, I don't assume it's free trade. It's managed trade, but it's trade.

The big opponents are big sugar. The US quota system boosts sugar prices for U.S. consumers by about $2 billion. CAFTA will allow an increase of 1% in sugar imports per year. Even that is unacceptable to the big producers. I think it's a dozen or so huge family operations in Florida.

Generic medications are a rip off of the research done to formulate and test the original medication. Guatemala has to wait 7 years to do it. Take that wait away and you take away the rewards to pay for the costs and risks of developing new medications. And soon there will be none, because you killed them.

NAFTA: You can mention some negatives and leave out all the positives. How is it that the US having a trade deficit with Mexico put Mexico's farmers out of business?

ON the other hand - "Under NAFTA, for example, Mexico eliminated tariffs on light trucks. U.S. exports of motor vehicles to Mexico increased more than sixfold from the five years preceding NAFTA to the five years after NAFTA took effect." - AEI

Re: Harken - Under CAFTA the suit could go to some sort of international tribunal. I also oppose international courts.