1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
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On July 1, a free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and South Korea takes effect. An agreement between Colombia and Canada is expected to enter into force this summer. Both potentially put US exporters at a trade disadvantage. Republican members of Congress are pressing for congressional consideration of FTAs with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia this summer, but the Obama administration has not yet submitted the agreements to Congress. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, will speak at AEI to explain the dynamics surrounding the pending FTAs and Trade Adjustment Assistance.
Following Senator Hatch's remarks, two leading authorities on the Trade Adjustment Assistance program will debate the merit of separate government aid for workers deemed to be displaced by trade--a topic that will remain highly controversial even if congressional leaders and President Obama come to an agreement on renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance.
Registration and Luncheon
SENATOR ORRIN HATCH (R-UT), US Senate
SALLIE JAMES, Cato Institute
HOWARD ROSEN, Peterson Institute for International Economics
Question and Answer
WASHINGTON, JUNE 30, 2011--Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) argued to a packed room Thursday at AEI that the mock markup of three pending free trade agreements later in the afternoon in the Senate Finance Committee was a "crass" political move pushed primarily by the Obama administration. Senator Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, expressed his support for the agreements, arguing that the Colombia, Panama, and South Korea free trade agreements "promise nothing but economic growth, more jobs, and deepening friendship with our special allies." Senator Hatch went on to criticize the Obama administration for delaying passage of the free trade agreements for several years and now tying passage to the continuance of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a program that provides federal aid to workers displaced by foreign competition. Senator Hatch described the program as an unnecessary and unfair spending proposal, a "poison pill that will not be swallowed," and advocated that the free trade agreements and TAA funding have separate up or down votes. In the panel discussion that followed, Howard Rosen, the executive director of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Coalition, commented on the recent deal struck between Republican members of Congress and the Obama administration. Rosen said it was fortunate that TAA dodged a bullet, but lamented that the problem had just been delayed because TAA funding would need to be approved again in two years. Sallie James of the Cato Institute argued against continued federal funding for TAA. She said the program was essentially a payoff to workers who have enjoyed higher wages in the past only because of their success at lobbying the government for protectionist measures--policies that damaged consumers by forcing them to pay higher prices for goods.
Sallie James is a policy analyst with the Cato Institute's Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies. She writes and speaks on various trade topics, with a research emphasis on agricultural trade policy. Before joining Cato in 2006, Ms. James was an executive officer in the Office of Trade Negotiations in the Australian government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, working on industrial market access negotiations. Her articles have been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Orange County Register, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and other American newspapers, as well as the Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the European Review of Agricultural Economics. Ms. James has appeared on BBC World, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, Bloomberg TV, NPR, and other TV and radio outlets.