Free trade is good for those ready and willing to compete

I’m writing in response to the March 19 Congress Blog op-ed by Matt Blunt of the American Automotive Policy Council, commenting on auto trade barriers between the United States and Japan within the Trans-

Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations (“Time for modern trade policy in TPP”). Mr. Blunt is claiming that Japan has imposed “non-tariff barriers” to mask the Detroit Three’s overall lack of commitment to the Japanese auto market.

Mr. Blunt neglects to mention that Japan, in contrast to the U.S., does not impose import tariffs on autos, and he wrongfully claims that U.S., European and other Asian manufacturers are excluded from the domestic Japanese auto market, omitting the following:

That the Detroit Three currently only offer nine models for 90 percent of the domestic Japanese auto market (i.e., small cars and mini cars), compared to 91 models offered by European manufacturers;

That between 1996 and 2013, there was a 74 percent decline in Detroit Three auto dealerships in Japan, in stark contrast to a 72 percent increase of dealerships for European automakers in the same period; 

And that during a five-year period ending in July 2013, the four leading European automakers in Japan outspent the Detroit Three on advertising in Japan by a ratio of 14-1.

Clearly, Mr. Blunt and the AAPC are erroneously publicizing their claims regarding TPP as market access issues, rather than as marketing and investment issues.

I agree with Mr. Blunt that TPP has to be a “win-win” for all countries involved. If the TPP agreement is successfully concluded, the economic benefits for all 12 negotiating countries will be significant. However, Mr. Blunt conveniently omits that participation in the TPP would force the ultimate elimination of trade protections for the Detroit Three via the United States’s 2.5 percent import tariff on cars and 25 percent import tariff on light trucks.

For all participants in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, there is an unprecedented opportunity to engage in free and fair trade — for those who are willing and ready to compete.

Washington, D.C.


Congress should follow leadership of military to stop climate change

From Jon Gensler, fellow with the Truman National Security Project

According to a recent Gallup poll, the majority of the American public believes that “climate change is not a top concern” (“Climate change not a top worry, poll finds,” March 12).

A consensus of military and national security leaders disagree. 

Senior leaders in the Pentagon have stated climate change will challenge the Department of Defense’s ability to fulfill its mission and force the military’s hand to respond to climate-related conflicts and disasters around the world. 

And as a former captain in the Army, I have seen firsthand how climate change — a result of our overreliance on fossil fuels — threatens our national security and how climate disruption puts more of our men and women in uniform at greater risk.

Recently, the Department of Defense released its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which outlines the military’s strategy and priorities. The QDR calls climate change a “threat multiplier [that] aggravates stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

And for our men and women currently serving around the globe, climate change “may increase the frequency, scale, & complexity of future missions.”

The military currently receives a request for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief every two weeks around the world, and expects them to become more frequent as the impacts of climate change become more acute.

Simply put: climate change creates risks to the security environment that the military must prepare for and confront.

The 20th century was defined by fossil fuels — resources that powered the growth of the largest economy in the world and the rise of America as a beacon of democracy and hope. Fossil fuels also helped power the most powerful military in the world. But we can’t stagnate. If we hope to confront climate change, and create a more effective and capable force, we cannot be solely dependent on these fuels.

We must innovate.

The military is already taking the lead with aggressive action, developing alternative fuels, investing in essential energy productivity technologies and deploying renewable energy in the field and at home. 

These actions will make the military a more capable force to address the security challenges of this century while reducing carbon emissions.

Congress should follow the leadership of our military and use every policy tool available to confront this threat, and help accelerate the growing and dynamic clean energy economy in the United States.

I do not want to see more of our political leaders sending more of our brave men and women in uniform — more of my friends —into life-threatening situations when we could have prevented it.

It’s time to act.

 

Brooklyn, N.Y.