Tag Archives: trade

Haslam frets about Trump triggering a trade war

Responding to questions after a Knoxville Rotary Club speech, Gov. Bill Haslam said he’s worried that Donald Trump as president could trigger a trade war damaging to the Tennessee economy, reports the News Sentinel.

After a brief talk about state accomplishments, Haslam took questions from the audience and was asked if he had concerns that if Donald Trump were elected president, he might involve the country in a trade war at a time Tennessee and the Knox County economies have extensive economic ties with other countries.

“I’m actually really worried about this,” he said.

Haslam said that within the past few weeks, he wrapped up a trade trip to China, South Korea and Japan and those he spoke with had the same question: “Tell us, does Donald Trump mean what he says?”

Haslam said that, next to California, Tennessee is Japan’s largest U.S. trading partner. Tennessee tends to export 25 percent more goods to countries with which it has trade agreements, he said.

It is not realistic to think America can be a completely self-sufficient nation, Haslam said. “And, if you like that thought, then just be prepared for everything you pay for to cost a lot more.”

Placing tariffs on foreign goods will just bring tariffs on local goods, he said.

Cohen, Duncan oppose trade bill favored by other TN congressmen

Democrat Steve Cohen and Republican John Duncan Jr. were the only Tennessee U.S. House members voting against the so-called “fast track” trade bill last week, reports Michael Collins.

The vote was an especially difficult one for Cohen. The Memphis Democrat considers himself pro-trade and said he would like to have supported the president, but he just had too many concerns about giving Obama “fast-track” authority to negotiate trade agreements with other countries.

“It was taking power away from the Congress to look at these treaties and possibly amend them to make them in keeping with Americans’ concerns about job losses,” Cohen said.

The vote was not a difficult one for Duncan. The Knoxville Republican, who has been in office for close to 27 years, has never voted in favor of giving fast-track authority to any president, Democrat or Republican, even though the GOP and corporate groups have long been free-trade supporters.

“The executive branch has become too powerful, and I just think it’s not a good policy for the Congress to cede more authority and power to the executive branch,” he said.

Obama’s push for fast-track authority — which would streamline the process for negotiating international trade deals and would strip Congress of its power to change those agreements — has tested long-held loyalties between the White House and congressional Democrats and created a curious alliance between Obama and Republicans.

The peculiar politics of trade were on full display a couple of weeks ago, when pro-labor Democrats in the U.S. House deserted the president en masse and killed the fast-track legislation, which had been coupled with a jobs-retraining assistance program for workers displaced by trade.

Alexander, Corker back Obama on fast-track trade agreements

The Obama administration is pushing hard for Congress to approve a trade promotion bill that would allow for fast-track approval of trade agreements with other countries and Tennessee’s two U.S. senators are among Republicans backing him on the effort, reports Michael Collins.

The White House says fast-track is crucial to completing new trade agreements with Pacific nations and the European Union that will open up markets for billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. goods.

For once, many congressional Republicans agree.

“Of course I do,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Maryville Republican, said recently when asked if he favors granting President Barack Obama fast-track, or Trade Promotion Authority, to negotiate such deals.

Tennesseans certainly know the benefits of being able to trade freely with other countries, Alexander said.

Exports from Tennessee companies hit a record $33 billion last year, with the state’s merchandise flowing into markets such as Canada ($9.1 billion), Mexico ($4.8 billion), China ($2.3 billion), Japan ($1.7 billion) and Belgium ($1.2 billion).

“Look at the soybeans Tennessee farmers sell to Asia, the auto parts Tennessee workers sell in Asia and Europe, and the medical devices from Memphis and Nashville sold around the world,” Alexander said. “In return, Tennessee has attracted companies from around the world that sell their products in the U.S. and abroad.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker also supports Trade Promotion Authority, which he says is key to securing strong agreements with foreign trading partners.

“Transformative trade agreements with Europe and Asia will enhance our nation’s security and hold the potential to generate significant economic growth in the U.S. by expanding foreign markets for U.S. companies and increasing foreign investment here at home,” Corker said.

Samar Ali: Anti-Muslim Attacks ‘Silly’ but ‘Hurtful’

Samar Ali, whose appointment as an international trade specialist in the Department of Economic and Community Development touched off a round of criticism earlier this year, has been personally silent on the situation while defended by Gov. Bill Haslam and others in the administration. (A previous story, HERE) But she was interviewed by Dave Flessner for a story in Sunday’s Chattanooga TFP.
Ali, who grew up in Waverly, Tenn., and was once student president at Vanderbilt University, said such attacks were “hurtful.” But she called them “silly” and untrue. The 30-year-old lawyer said she has been pleased by the support of the Haslam administration and others across the state as she tries to expand the international reach of the state’s products and services.
She says she is focused on expanding the state’s trade offices around the globe and working to boost exports from Tennessee by 10 percent in each of the next five years.
“I really believe that adversity does introduce you to yourself,” she said during a recent visit to Chattanooga. “I joined this administration because I really love Tennessee and believe in Gov. Haslam’s vision and leadership.”
Haslam administration officials have stood by Ali and her trade efforts despite her critics.
Clint Brewer, assistant commissioner in the state Department of Economic and Community Development, called Ali “one of the brightest leaders of her generation from this state.”
“Her extensive work experience in international business makes her eminently qualified to serve the people of the Volunteer State,” he said.
Ali earned both an undergraduate and law degree from Vanderbilt University where she was the first Arab-Muslim student president and spoke out against terrorism after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
“I left Tennessee when I was 25, but no other place felt like home — it’s in my soul,” she said during the recent visit. “My family, which is very important to me, is here, and I want to be a part of something that I believe in. I had three months of some people who were upset with my background. But I decided that that wasn’t going to erase my good memories and why I came back and why I was here.”
Ali is here to boost both exports from Tennessee companies and investments in the state from foreign firms. She is working to open new state-funded trade offices in Britain, Mexico, Germany, China and India to help Tennessee businesses export around the globe.
Tennessee’s efforts are being aided by a 3-year federal grant, which rose this year to $610,000, to support the trade offices, trade missions and a new Tennessee Trade Academy.
Ali believes such programs can help businesses of all sizes to sell more of their goods around the globe and boost the state’s $30 billion-a-year of export sales.

ECD: Let’s Go to Mexico

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development:
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced today that the department will lead a trade mission to Mexico City July 17-20, 2012 that will focus on Tennessee’s automotive manufacturers. Applications are due June 1, 2012 and are available at tn.gov/ecd/tntrade/trademission. The trade mission is part of the recently announced TNTrade, ECD’s initiative designed to help boost exports by Tennessee’s small- and medium-sized businesses.
“The TNTrade program was designed to increase exports of Tennessee-made goods and services and help identify new customers and markets for companies in our state,” ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty said. “Fewer than 2 percent of Tennessee companies are exporting, and we are working to increase that statistic. The Mexico trade mission will provide an excellent opportunity for Tennessee automotive companies to form new relationships and begin or grow their export efforts.”

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