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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 29, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Panama trade pact

U.S. needs an industrial policy

Dave Batker and Stephanie Celt make an excellent case against the pending trade agreement with Panama [“Obama should steer clear of Panama trade pact,” Opinion, guest commentary, May 27]. That said, if Panama woke up tomorrow and resolved every objection we have with their notorious banking system, we would still have a failed trade policy.

In 1993, four presidents met to sign the North American Free Trade Agreement side letters. Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush promised America millions of new manufacturing jobs, “access to markets,” an end to illegal immigration and shared prosperity. Workers heard “access to markets” and assumed that meant access to consumers. Businesses heard “access to markets” and they knew it meant access to producers with cheap labor and no obligation to comply with health, safety or environmental rules. Simply put, this dog won’t hunt.

We need a new trade policy. No country in the world is pure free-trade or pure protectionist. Every country has an industrial policy. We need an industrial policy.

When you find yourself at the bottom of a deep hole, stop digging.

— Stan Sorscher, Seattle

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