U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said that trade supporters must do a better job of helping people hurt by expanding the nation’s global reach if they want to win the debate.
Donohue, whose business group is urging Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this year, acknowledged that because trade creates winners and losers proponents need to work harder to create educational opportunities and improve training programs that displace U.S. workers.
"If we’re asking anti-trade critics to acknowledge the reality that trade and the global economy are here to stay and, on the whole, beneficial, then trade supporters must acknowledge the reality that trade has drawbacks and impacts real people — and do a better job addressing them,” Donohue during Monday at the World Strategic Forum in Miami, Fla.
“We must convince our fellow citizens and those negatively impacted by trade that we care about them and we’re going to help them," Donohue said.
"We won’t win the trade argument until we do that and we won’t win it until we convince folks that the agreements negotiated are fair and that we’re going to vigorously enforce them,” he said.
Donohue outlined how the business community has worked for years to put forward a variety of solutions to mitigate the drawbacks associated with trade.
The Chamber has supported overhauls of the federal government’s overlapping worker-training programs as well as advocated for options outside of a four-year college degree including vocational and technical training.
“The U.S. business community is no longer leaving these challenges in the hands of bureaucrats,” Donohue said.
"We are becoming actively involved in the institutions that are producing our future workforce," he said.
Donohue also criticized the presidential candidates in both parties for creating fear around trade and vowing to rip up all current global deals.
"Politicians in both U.S. political parties, as well as various interest groups, are leading these attacks with emotional appeals to genuine and understandable economic anxieties," he said.
"There’s just one problem with such attacks and appeals — they are often devoid of any real facts to back them up," he said.
"And so again, it falls to those of us in the business community to speak the truth and state the facts, even if they are not what people want to hear."