The following editorial appeared in Thursday’s Wisconsin State Journal:
Washington is finally working together to do something good for the economy. It’s approving three long-stalled free trade deals that will boost exports and create jobs.
President Barack Obama touted the agreements on Friday at a General Motors plant in Detroit. The Motor City’s Big Three automakers and the United Auto Workers have supported more trade, especially with South Korea, because it will help America sell more vehicles abroad.
“The reason I want to get these trade deals done is because you see a whole bunch of Korean cars here in the United States, and you don’t see any American cars in Korea,” Obama said earlier this year.
It’s a great point.
The deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama also should be a big win for Wisconsin farmers, service providers and innovators who will gain access to more customers.
Average tariffs of 54 percent on American agricultural goods will be eliminated in South Korea, for example. Compare that to tariffs of just 9 percent for Korean agricultural goods entering the United States.
Similar unfairness will go away when our vehicles are sold in Colombia. And the Obama administration has won more transparency from Panama’s notorious banking industry as well as more protection for labor leaders in Colombia.
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Obama sure took long enough to get these deals done. Yet the wide bipartisan majorities supporting these agreements in Congress are impressive.
Trade, of course, is a two-way street. And greater competition can hurt some industries and jobs while boosting others.
Yet overall it’s a net gain for all participating countries. More people around the globe gain access to more of what they want.
Greater competition can be unnerving for some. But standing still while Europe and other regions of the world move into these new markets would be a losing strategy for America.
Washington finally cooperated and got something significant done for our economy and jobs.