Commerce Expert Riffs on Recent Free-Trade Trends

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Byline: Mick Zawislak Daily Herald Staff Writer

Phenomenal economic growth in China has made headlines, but the United States remains the measuring stick, said former Commerce Secretary William Daley.

"We are the envy of the world," said Daley, chairman of the Midwest region for JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Daley, brother of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, was the featured speaker Tuesday at the Lake County Partners annual meeting, attended by about 400 business and civic leaders. The group is the county's economic development arm.

The topic was the importance of free trade in a global economy, a sometimes misunderstood, difficult and politically charged practice, according to Daley.

"Trade is kind of a catch-all today, in a negative sense, for the globalization that's going on," he said.

Daley, a long-time advocate of free trade who has promoted U.S. exports and open markets as commerce secretary and special counsel to former President Bill Clinton, acknowledged there are "losers" in free trade.

"We've got to come up with a new scheme to help those people who are losers," he said. The situation is particularly thorny for Democrats, the traditional party of labor.

The world has shifted from a manufacturing to consumer economy, with resulting negative impacts in certain areas. While sometimes difficult, the politics of trade are vital to our economy, he added.

And while the North American Free Trade Agreement was a rallying cry for U.S. labor, low tariffs help our economy.

Also, China wouldn't be as quiet as it is regarding events in the Middle East, if it hadn't been allowed to join the World Trade Organization, Daley contended. …