NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Benefits of Fast-Track Trade Authority

November 29, 2001

The war on terrorism is being used to justify all manner of expensive and peripheral federal programs. But the anti-terrorism effort is seldom invoked to justify freer trade -- even though it demonstrably raises living standards among poorer nations, and economic interaction among nations helps sustain military coalitions, trade specialists point out.

The House of Representatives will soon vote on giving the president fast-track authority on trade pacts. Supporters of freer trade suggest that opponents keep these facts in mind:

  • America's exports accounted for nearly one-third of our economic growth over the past decade -- and now support over 12 million American jobs.
  • Jobs generated by exports typically pay 13 percent to 18 percent more than comparable employment.
  • The North American Free Trade Agreement, and the completion of the Uruguay Round, now generate annual income gains of $1,300 to $2,000 for the average American family of four.
  • A recent World Bank study shows that nations open to trade grow 3.5 times faster than those closed to trade.

While each of the previous five presidents has been granted fast-track authority, it lapsed in 1994. During the seven years the U.S. has been without this authority, other countries have move ahead without us.

Since 1990, the European Union completed negotiations on 20 free trade agreements -- and is currently negotiating 15 more. Mexico now has eight agreements with 32 countries.

But today, out of 130 preferential agreements and trade agreement in the world, the U.S. is a party to only three.

Source: Henry M. Paulson Jr. (Goldman Sachs Group), "Congress Should Put Trade on the Fast Track," Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2001.

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