Opening markets to U.S. products and services is an important part of the President's six-point plan for sustaining America's economic recovery and creating new jobs for American workers. According to government statistics:
U.S. exports accounted for about 25 percent of U.S. economic growth during the 1990s and supported an estimated 12 million jobs.
Jobs in exporting plants pay wages that average up to 18 percent more than jobs in non-exporting plants.
Approximately one out of every five factory jobs in the U.S. directly depends on trade.
American farmers export one in three acres of their crops, and exports generate nearly 25 percent of farmers' gross cash sales.
America's dynamic high-tech sector depends on exports. In 2003, exports of advanced technology products totaled $180 billion.
The President believes American workers are the best in the world, and when given a level playing field they can compete against workers anywhere. The President has acted aggressively to negotiate trade agreements that slash foreign tariffs and remove the barriers that disadvantage American workers and exporters.
To help American businesses and workers continue to outperform the world, the President has acted to make American companies more competitive. Tax cuts were vital to creating an environment of growth and innovation, and they must be made permanent. The President has also proposed reducing unnecessary regulations; making health care costs more affordable; reforming the legal system to cut down on frivolous lawsuits, and enacting a national energy policy that ensures an affordable supply of energy and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
Free and fair trade helps create jobs at home by opening foreign markets to American exports -- as well as by encouraging foreign companies to set up operations in the United States. Foreign-owned firms directly employ more than 6.4 million workers in the U.S. -- jobs that might otherwise go to foreign workers -- and that does not include the millions of people who work at companies that supply parts and material to foreign-owned firms. Examples include:
Honda employs about 16,000 Ohioans and 24,000 American workers nationwide.
The BMW plant in Greer, South Carolina employs 4,700 American workers.
Toyota's new $800 million plant in San Antonio, Texas will create approximately 2,000 new jobs, bringing its total number of employees in the U.S. to over 35,000.
Nestle employs 43,000 Americans nationwide.
Free and fair trade also helps to lower prices and increase choices for American consumers. Over the past decade, NAFTA and the Uruguay Round agreements have raised the standards of living of the average American family of four by up to $2,000 a year, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. A University of Michigan study shows lowering global trade barriers on all products and services by even one-third could boost the U.S. economy by $177 billion, thereby raising living standards for the average family by $2,500 annually.
As we recognize the benefits of free and fair trade, we also recognize that any job loss from economic change?whether arising from trade or technology or increased productivity?is painful for some workers and their families. Manufacturing output, for instance, increased six-fold between 1950 and 2000 -- yet, because of high productivity and new technologies, about the same number of workers are employed in manufacturing. Many of the new jobs being created require new skills, and we must help these workers deal with dislocation and acquire the skills necessary to find good-paying jobs. The President's FY 2005 budget commits significant resources to help displaced workers find jobs.
Job training and employment assistance: The President's FY 2005 budget proposes $23 billion for job training and employment assistance.
Jobs for the 21st Century: The President has proposed more than $500 million for his Jobs for the 21st Century initiative to help prepare U.S. workers to take advantage of the better skilled, higher-paying jobs of the future. This includes $250 million in proposed funding targeted to community colleges to train workers for industries that are creating the most new jobs, as well as funding for new secondary education programs to better prepare high school students for the jobs of the 21st Century.
Trade Adjustment Assistance: In 2002, President Bush signed a law expanding the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which will provide $1.1 billion in FY 2005 for training and cash benefits for workers dislocated by increased imports or a shift of production to certain foreign countries. Workers are also eligible to receive a Health Coverage Tax Credit covering 65% of the premium for qualified health insurance. Workers over 50 may be entitled to Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance, which pays half the difference between their old wage and the wage they are receiving at new employment for up to two years and up to $10,000.
A pro-growth economic agenda, a strong education system, and help for American workers to gain the skills to secure good jobs are the right ways to respond to the challenges of our growing and changing economy. A retreat to economic isolationism is the wrong course to take. Isolationist policies would endanger our economic recovery, cost U.S. workers jobs, lead to higher prices for American consumers, and put U.S. workers and companies at a competitive disadvantage.