CONSUMING INDUSTRIES MARK WORLD TRADE WEEK:
Washington, DC - The Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC) commended President George W. Bush for proclaiming May 18-26 "World Trade Week" but expressed concern that the proclamation did not highlight the importance of imports to the U.S. economy.
In a letter to the President, Jon Jenson, Chairman of CITAC, stated that consuming industries fear that the President's proclamation "perpetuates a myth that the United States only benefits from trade by exporting."
Citing a 1998 study (Imports in America: The Rest of the Story, by The Trade Partnership for the Council of the Americas and the National Retail Institute) showing that imports support 10 million jobs, Jenson wrote, "Imports benefit U.S. employment&Many [of these jobs] are high paying jobs in finance, transportation, communications, and manufacturing."
The same study found that 516,000 workers holding import-related jobs are union members, including transportation equipment manufacturing workers, textile and apparel workers, and transportation workers (e.g., longshoremen).
The most significant imports to the U.S. are capital goods, industrial supplies and materials that help American farmers and manufacturers offer lower cost products, increasing their ability to export.
The President's proclamation states, "The United States will work for open trade at every opportunity. The executive and legislative branches need to work together to provide the means to cooperate on trade objectives." The President also committed to working "for more open trade globally" through the World Trade Organization.
However, there are domestic industries that have used U.S. trade law and political influence to gain trade protection that is counterproductive to America's international trading relationships. Jenson noted that consumers have seen their access to imports "continually eroding as a result of initiatives by domestic industries that cannot compete in the global economy and choose instead to seek protection through government-imposed trade restrictions," including the domestic steel industry, softwood lumber industry, textile industry and sugar producers.
"We must not adopt policies to impede the flow of beneficial imports into our economy," concluded Jenson. "Imports are the life-blood of thousands of businesses employing millions of American workers."
CITAC is a coalition of companies and organizations who are committed to promoting a trade arena where U.S. consuming industries and their workers have access to global markets for raw materials and other imports that enhance the international competitiveness of U.S. firms.