Pass Free-Trade Agreements to Create U.S. Jobs; Every Day Congress Does Nothing, American Workers and Businesses Lose

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 13, 2011 | Go to article overview

Pass Free-Trade Agreements to Create U.S. Jobs; Every Day Congress Does Nothing, American Workers and Businesses Lose


Byline: Gary Shapiro, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Last week, the Senate and House held a successful mock vote on the free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. While not legally binding, a mock vote is an important way to get our elected officials on the record, as opposed to hiding behind rhetoric and good intentions. Now we know where congressional members stand on putting Americans back to work.

This is good news. Those free-trade agreements, negotiated years ago, have been stalled due to partisan fighting, political bickering and deal-making. But the facts have only ever pointed in one direction - that their passage will open new markets to business, and pave the way for U.S. job creation.

With the unemployment rate stuck above 9 percent, Americans are blaming either or both political parties for their failure to create jobs. But the truth is that government only creates jobs in government, and what politicians can and must do is make sure that entrepreneurs and businesses have a healthy environment for job creation. So far, out-of-work Americans have seen precious little action from Washington to create the right job-creation environment.

I can already hear the objections from Big Labor: Free trade kills jobs. On the contrary, over the last 15 years, free trade has created more than 25 million jobs and increased real wages for U.S. workers. In fact, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the cost of not passing the Colombian and South Korean agreements has been on the order of 300,000 jobs.

As president and CEO of an association representing more than 2,000 consumer technology companies, I know full well that agreements like these are vital to the continued expansion of the country's high-tech industries. Free-trade agreements have allowed our members greater access to international markets, helping to grow their companies and, in turn, create thousands of American jobs. And it was free trade that was cited in the Declaration of Independence as important to our nation's creation.

The simple truth is that while the United States dithers, the rest of the world is breaking down trade barriers. …

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