Unfortunately, President Obama has not focused on reversing this dangerous trend. Instead of moving forward on a strategy to open markets abroad to U.S.-made products, the Administration has indefinitely delayed laying out a trade agenda and has filled the void with isolationist measures. Earlier this year, the Administration and the Democrat Majority pulled the plug on a pilot program for Mexican commercial trucks without improving highway safety – causing the United States to violate our commitments and subjecting American exporters to $2.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs. Most recently, the White House announced that it will impose a union-supported 35 percent tax on Chinese tires without support from a single U.S. tire manufacturer. The impact of the new “tire tax,” effective this Saturday, will likely fall hardest on struggling American families that must now pay more for a necessity in life – with no assurance any more U.S. jobs will be created as a result. The Buy American provisions in the “stimulus” bill are contracting trade, restricting job opportunities for Americans, and clogging, rather than priming, U.S. economic recovery.
For American companies to grow and be competitive, we need to “Sell American.” President Obama can start by asking Congress to move the pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. These agreements, which represent an immediate boost to U.S. exports, have been stalled for more than two years. And the cost of inaction only hurts American companies as other countries move into those markets, blocking U.S. access. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee recently released analysis detailing this cost to our key export sectors as the European Union forges ahead with trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia, and Canada moves toward an agreement with Colombia.
There is no one solution to our current economic woes, but it is clear that trade is a critical part of the solution. By increasing trade flows, we can speed the global economic recovery and create a stronger U.S. economy. President Obama can continue to sit on the sidelines of the global trade dialogue, or he can lead, starting today, and help American businesses, families, and workers thrive across our great country.
Cross-posted from The Foundry.