Trade

Published on: 22:06PM Apr 01, 2010

President Obama has set an ambitious goal of doubling our exports and creating 2 million jobs in the next 5 years. That’s very encouraging. We need to do something about jobs with a 9.7 percent unemployment and a sputtering economy. Let’s not kid ourselves. That goal will be very hard to achieve but now is the time to get started.
 
A good place to start would be to resolve a costly trade dispute that we have with Mexico. Mexico is one of our biggest markets in the world but our refusal to live up to our obligations in the North American Free Trade Agreement has cost us 2.6 billion dollars in exports and 25,000 jobs.
 
Here is the history. The 1994 NAFTA provides that Mexican trucks can haul freight into and out of the U.S. That provision was supposed to be fully implemented by year 2000. Congress, pushed by the Teamsters union, would not allow the policy to take effect. They complained about safety, even though the Mexican trucks were required to meet the same standards as our own. The dispute with Mexico has been going back and forth for 15 years. Now we are suffering with serious job losses.
 
Also, right now we are looking down the barrel at another potentially major retaliation by Brazil. We have only 30 days to resolve that dispute that could result in major tariffs in our exports of cars, cotton, and ag products.
 
The Senate has spent years ignoring trade agreements that are already negotiated/ready to be enacted. Agreements with Colombia, South Korea, and Panama could mean billions of dollars in exports and thousands of jobs for us. In addition, there is no time like the present to facilitate more trade with Cuba.
 
While we have been sitting on our hands, other countries have been signing trade agreements with Asian and South American countries. If we are serious about meeting the President’s goal of doubling trade, we had better get started. President Obama says it’s all about “jobs, jobs, jobs.” Let’s get started.
 
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com.
 
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.
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