South Carolina Republicans Get to Settle Trade Dispute: Buchanan Pushes Protectionism in State Revived by Foreign Firms

Article excerpt

One of the bitterest policy fights in the Republican primaries comes today in South Carolina, where Pat Buchanan's trade protectionism squares off against full participation in the global economy.

It is a battle for the heart and soul of the GOP's international economic agenda. Party leaders in Congress support free trade and voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Buchanan wants higher tariffs on goods from Japan, China and all Third World countries.

The conservative commentator says imports and free-trade agreements have destroyed U.S. jobs.

"We just lost 2.2 million jobs last year," he said in response to the government's announcement this week that the trade deficit hit a seven-year high of $111 billion in 1995.

But free-trade supporters note that the United States had the largest export increase in its history last year - up $72 billion - supporting millions of jobs. And there has been a net increase in jobs each of the past five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Buchanan's economic nationalism does not have broad-based appeal in the country because there are too many areas that benefit from the international economy, especially in the South," said David Smick, a GOP economic adviser.

Mr. Buchanan has campaigned heavily among South Carolina's textile companies, whose workers fear increased foreign competition. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has appealed to voters who work for the state's newer export industries.

Much of the job growth in South Carolina is the result of an infusion of foreign-related businesses that Carroll Campbell, a Dole supporter, brought into the state during his two terms as governor.

The state has nearly 500 foreign-affiliated plants representing 28 countries and employing more than 85,000 workers, said Douglas Williams, a state economic development analyst. …