Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Free Trade & Democrats

OpinionJournal - Outside the Box

Protection Racket
Free trade is a key to prosperity. Why do Democrats fight it?

BY PETE DU PONT

"Five new Democratic senators share similar views on free trade. Ohio's Sen.-elect Sherrod Brown wrote a book entitled "Myths of Free Trade," arguing that trade agreements should only be allowed if those nations pass laws "guaranteeing enforceable labor and environmental standards." John Edwards is a protectionist zealot; John Kerry said in 2004 that unless the treaties had the standards in them he would as president veto them.

Simply put, markets work. A recent Global Insights analysis concludes that Wal-Mart's 1985-2004 expansion of sales resulted in a 9.1% drop in the price of food at home, a 4.2% drop in the price of other goods and commodities, and a 3.1% decline in consumer prices overall, saving the average working family about $2,329 per year. And with that came a net increase of 210,000 Wal-Mart jobs in 2004 alone.

And trade agreements open market opportunities. The North American Free Trade Agreement, signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, has expanded total trade between the U.S, Canada, and Mexico by 172%. U.S. exports to Mexico have grown by 189% and to Canada by 111%. U.S. agricultural exports to Canada have doubled, to $10.6 billion from $5.3 billion, and to Mexico even more--to $9.4 billion from $3.6 billion. More than one million jobs were created in America by NAFTA.

Overall the U.S. Trade Representative's office says that 10.4% of the 2005 American GDP is the result of U.S. exports of goods and services. The Peterson Institute says that globalization boosts the U.S. economy $1 trillion annually, or about $10,000 per household."

Mr. du Pont, a former governor of Delaware, is chairman of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis.

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