Trade Deals Must be Free, Fair and Reciprocal

April 15, 2019

Editor’s note: Perry Hooper, author of this opinion article, is a CPA member.

By Perry O. Hooper Jr.,Republican State Executive Committee Former State Representative

Trade Deals Must be Free, Fair and Reciprocal

"U.S. Reciprocal Trade Act” has a very simple premise, it would allow the president to impose the same tariff on a foreign import that another country has imposed on the same product from the U.S.  Across party lines, reciprocal tariffs are extremely popular with Americans. According to a recent Harvard Harris pool, roughly 88 percent of Republicans 75 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of swing voters said they supported putting tariffs on imports at the same rate other countries put tariffs on U.S. goods. The reciprocal tariff policy is also supported across racial lines, with 83 percent of white Americans, 75 percent of black Americans, and more than 70 percent of Hispanic voters supporting the protective initiative.

The pro-tariff views of everyday Americans are in stark contrast to large multinational corporations and their lobbyist.  They favor global trade policies that outsource American jobs to foreign countries. It matters not to them what country their make their profits. Nike for example makes all their shoes off shore but bills itself as an All-American company with a social conscience.

Specifically, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has attempted to tank the passage of the Reciprocal Trade Act and has joined with other members of the business lobby certain Republican lawmakers to strip Trump of his tariff powers.  The Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, is an attempt to do just that. It would limit the president’s authority to impose tariffs on imports.

 It’s about time someone took on this fight for every day Americans and their jobs.  The team of United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Industrial Policy, Peter Navarro, and Commerce Department Under Secretary Gil Kaplan are leading the effort to do just that.

For too long, the U.S. has been a victim of predatory trade practices. As President Trump Stated: “While the U.S. continues to act as an incubator for commerce with one of the most free and open trade markets in the world, others pursue the protectionist playbook—imposing steep tariffs on the U.S. goods they import. Many of these are friends.  Many of these are allies.  But sometimes allies take advantage of us even more so than our non-allies.”

A few examples cited by the president: in a recent White House meeting with Congressional leaders: “India, as an example, has a 150 percent — hard to believe — tariff on whiskey.  They make whiskey, and they sell it to us.  We charge them zero.  We sell it to them; they charge us 150 percent.  So, I would say, other than that, it’s a very fair deal.  Okay?   That’s the least of it.  We have far worse than that.

The European Union charges us 67 percent tariff on pork, and we charge them almost nothing.  And they make it very hard for us to sell pork in the EU.

China puts a 25 percent tariffs on U.S. cars and we put a 2.5 percent tariff on the cars that are coming over internationally here.

For bulldozers, Malaysia charges us, as an example, 20 percent, and Indonesia charge us a lot.  We charge them all nothing.  We charge them nothing.  Very unfair to our companies.  Very unfair to our workers.”

Bottom line is all over the world, foreign countries both friend and foe put massive tariffs on our products while we put very few, if any, on theirs. This has resulted in an 800-Billion-dollar trade deficit. There has been a lot of bad trades deals made over a long period of time. The Reciprocal Trade Act will give President Trump and the Presidents who follow the tools necessary to assure trade is free, fair and reciprocal and reduce if not eliminate the trade deficit.

Perry O Hooper Jr. (left) is pictured with
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer

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  • Mark Pettitt
    “Free and fair” are vague concepts that cannot be used to shape policy for trade between nations. Political and economic conditions are too different for such value laden terms to drive policy. Let’s demand “reciprocal”, not in the sense of some economic conditions, but results. Unilaterally adjust US dollar exchange rates until we are trading goods for goods. All else will fall into place as the world realizes America is not for sale.