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Compare the 2008 Presidential Candidates' Trade Policies


At a Glance::

Of the two major 2008 Presidential Candidates, John McCain is the strongest advocate of free trade. He is against all subsidies and tariffs, and supports free trade agreements.

Barack Obama is moderately protectionistic, seeking to renegotiate NAFTA and other Free Trade Agreements (FTA's) to ensure higher standards of environmental and labor protection.

Between the two, McCain's trade policies would most stimulate the U.S. economy.

What Is Barack Obama's Trade Policies?:

Obama opposes many current FTA's because they provide perks for businesses but don't protect workers. He would re-open NAFTA to beef up protection for labor and the environment. He opposes the pending FTA with Colombia because it allows violence against labor leaders and South Korea because it restricts U.S. auto imports. He supports Federal funding for retraining displaced U.S. workers. (Source: IHT, Clinton and Obama address economic fears, February 18, 2008; Reuters, Obama and McCain offer voters a choice on trade, June 2, 2008)

How Would Obama's Trade Policies Impact the Economy?:

Obama's position is seen as protectionist by many of our allies throughout the world. Opposition to the Colombia and South Korea FTA's is damaging the popularity of two of America's strongest allies, who have been advocates of opening up their markets to U.S. exports. Defeat may hurt economic progress that has been made in both countries.

Both FTA's will lower tariffs on U.S. exports to these countries; lowered tariffs on imports from these countries are already in place.

Reopening NAFTA will allow Mexico to question many aspects, such as immigration, that are now closed.

For more, read Obama and Trade.

What Is John McCain's Position on Trade?:

McCain is a staunch proponent of free trade. He supports FTA's with both Colombia and South Korea. He supports job retraining for displaced workers. Not only would he keep NAFTA, he would also enforce an existing agreement to open up the U.S. to the Mexican trucking industry. He would end the $307 billion farm subsidy, which would then allow the Doha round of the WTO multi-lateral trade agreement to proceed.

How Would McCain's Trade Policies Impact the Economy?:

The FTA with Colombia would eliminate a 35% tariff for U.S. exports to that country, helping 8,000 small businesses. The FTA for South Korea would increase exports by $25 billion in a few years. Elimination of farm subsidies would save $307 billion in the Federal budget, and passage of the Doha agreement would add $500 billion to the U.S. economy in exports.

For more, read John McCain and Trade.

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