Detroit News – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is introducing legislation aimed at preventing a new Pacific trade agreement from harming auto employment.
Brown, a Democrat, introduced a new bill, the 21st Century Trade Agreements and Market Access Act, to “ensure that American trading partners play by the same rules as the U.S,” Brown said.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Jim Hoffa — on a conference call with Brown and a Ford Motor Co. trade executive — said the administration should be careful about new trade agreements, saying the 1.4 million members will put “pressure on the administration for a good agreement that opens markets.”
“We are losing the war on trade,” Hoffa said, saying free trade deals with Canada, Mexico, Panama, Korea and others “have all been disasters for jobs.”
This month, Canada and Mexico have been invited to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks, leaving only Japan among major nations that have unsuccessfully sought to join the talks.
The talks are aimed at creating one of the largest free-trade zones in the world.
In addition to the United States, the other nations in the talks are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said this month he doesn’t support including Japan in the free-trade talks, a spokeswoman said.
Ford vice president of international government affairs Stephen Biegun said the company is reviewing the Brown bill, but supports efforts to make sure trade agreements are fair. Biegun says the reports that Brown would require more data about trade would help.
“It is just simply wrong the decision to put in that discussion a country which is demonstrably protected and closed to American exports,” Biegun said.
U.S. automakers are sharply opposed to allowing Japan into the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. They argue that the Asian nation hasn’t done enough to open its market to U.S. auto exports, but they support allowing Mexico and Canada into the talks. Both are home to large numbers of automakers.