Donald Trump blames our trade partners, especially China, Japan and Mexico, for America’s economic weakness. Bernie Sanders complains that free trade agreements hurt American workers. Hilary Clinton has flip-flopped on the Trans Pacific Partnership, which she supported as Secretary of State. CEOs, many of whom feel that expanding free trade is essential to economic growth, are speaking out publicly to build support for free trade in the post-Obama era.
“California runs on trade,” Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said Wednesday, keynoting the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s 90th World Trade Week program.
Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields, speaking with Yahoo Finance’s video news service, said: “What’s important for our business going forward is we continue to open up our products to other markets. Free and fair trade is really important. We have always supported every free-trade agreement since we’ve been in existence.”
Blogging on Commerce.gov, Andrés Gluski, president and CEO of the AES Corporation, wrote, “Overall, free trade has made the world a better place. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, largely due to the opportunities freer trade has provided them. Billions of people are now enjoying the benefits of better and lower priced goods.”
He added, “In today’s rapidly changing world, FTAs are important for us, if we want the U.S. to retain its economic and political leadership.”
Speaking to the World Strategic Forum last month, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue noted:
“Every day, we hear candidates arguing we should wall off America from the rest of the world. We hear talk about ripping up all of America’s current trade agreements, which they say are part of a ‘global race to the bottom,’ and forcing companies to build their products on American soil and nowhere else. If that kind of talk frightens the foreign visitors here today, guess what? It frightens a lot of Americans, too! This is what happens in poorly performing economies that are not providing enough jobs and opportunities. People look for scapegoats. Politicians play on people’s fears. Common sense goes out the window.”
Donohue added: “We need to be strong advocates for trade and be out there making the case for it. We need to do the hard work of helping and retraining those displaced by trade. We need to appeal to people’s hopes and aspirations, not their fears.”