Jesse Ventura on Free Trade
Former Independent MN Governor
NAFTA reservations: Mexican labor conditions & US job loss
Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, hundreds of factories called maquiladoras have sprung up. There they make goods on the cheap and ship them back across the border.
President Clinton predicted this would be a
boon to everyone. It certainly has been for the corporations, which have cut back their labor costs and increased their profits. Thousands of workers from Mexico's poorest southern states make the equivalent of little more than $4 a day. But it's better
than having no job at all.
I'm a staunch capitalist, and I was a big supporter of NAFTA in the beginning. Today, I have a lot of reservations about what it's brought about. NAFTA has resulted in hundreds of thousands of job losses in the US, because
employers moved south of the border. Half of the people working in these Mexican maquiladoras are women, and there is also child labor, and long hours, with no right to unionize. They're really nothing more than sweatshops, in a lot of cases.
Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 99-100
, Apr 1, 2008
Active role in bringing China into WTO
Interestingly, the University of Minnesota has the largest population of Chinese students of any campus in the US. They'd told me that 80% of their people are still involved in agriculture, but that China's farmland is pretty much maxed out. I thought it
would be great if US farmers, in MN and elsewhere, could sell their surpluses to China.
I became a big supporter of bringing China into the World Trade Organization (WTO), something that was also one of President Clinton's foremost concerns.
They'd moved from strictly command economy to one where market forces were playing an increasing part, and it was definitely time to break down the remaining trade barriers.
Clinton's administration encouraged me to take an active role, and I'm proud
to have been a part of the effort that resulted in China being admitted to the WTO in December 2001. That's how I ended up spending a week in China on a trade mission early the next year. First in Beijing for several days, and then Shanghai.
Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.102-103
, Apr 1, 2008
Trade creates jobs & productivity
It is vital to our economic health and continued growth in a global economy.One out of every eight manufacturing jobs in Minnesota depends on exports. And Iím told that Canadaís manufacturing sector has added 220,000 new jobs since 1995 -
making that industry one of the strongest job creating engines in the Canadian economy. So to those critics who talk about lost jobs, I say:
- Free trade fosters competition and innovation - and leads to higher productivity
- Companies that export tend to pay higher wages - and have better benefits
And yes - companies that export DO create jobs, despite what the critics say.
Iím afraid we WILL LOSE jobs - or the opportunity to create job -- if we DONíT encourage
Minnesota companies to export. The U.S. market is only so big - and we canít hide from the fact that the world is our marketplace.
Source: Speech to Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership
, Sep 18, 2000
Trading with China is a no-brainer
Trade with China could give the US economy a gigantic shot in the arm. In opening up trade with China, weíd be giving nothing and getting everything. What they sell to us will probably change very little. But what will change dramatically is our access
to them. Up until now, they havenít allowed us into their market. Now weíll have access to over a billion new customers. And if we donít move on this opportunity, the rest of the world will. We could end up being the only country not trading with China.
Itís a no-brainer in my opinion. It doesnít mean that anything more will come to us from China, but weíll be selling a huge amount of stuff to them. It will drop tariff rates from 30% down to 10%.
In most cases it will be particularly beneficial to our farmers, because China is out of farmland. If US farmers could sell our surplus to China, prices would rise and profit would be enormous.
Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.225-6
, Jul 2, 2000
Opening markets will cause Chinaís downfall
People who oppose trade with China are always quick to mention the human rights abuses going on there. I understand that unspeakable human atrocities have happened in China, and youíll never hear me excusing them. Thatís a by-product, it seems, of
But trade barriers arenít going to do anything to change the human rights situation in China. I think the opposite approach is called for: The best catalyst for change that China could possibly have is to get a taste of the good things
democracy can create. By engaging us, and by becoming more associated with our view on human rights, I think theyíll be bringing a flood of new ideas into their country.
I think opening our markets to China will be the ultimate downfall of Chinaís
Communism. Because when China gets a taste of what capitalism can allow them to do, its people wonít stand for it anymore. And I think the exposure the Chinese government would get in the WTO would open them up even more to international criticism.
Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.228-9
, Jul 2, 2000
Ease Canadian border-crossing rules.
Ventura signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:
Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Canadian Border 98-MGC3 on May 12, 1998
- WHEREAS, the United States and Canada share the longest undefended border in the world; and
- WHEREAS, the United States and Canada have the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world, exceeding $1 billion every day; and
- WHEREAS, the rate of cross-border traffic is steadily increasing, with billions of dollars worth of goods and tens of millions of American and Canadian citizens crossing the land border each year; and
- WHEREAS, Section 110 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 requires the U.S. Attorney General to develop an automated entry-exit control system to register ďall aliensĒ entering and departing the United States; and
- WHEREAS, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service has indicated that it cannot meet the September 30, 1998 deadline for implementing the entry and exit tracking system
and that it does not have the appropriation necessary to put the system in place; and
- WHEREAS, this system will place an unmanageable requirement on border-crossing services, impose serious delays at the Canada-U.S. land border and result in unintended negative consequences for international trade, tourism, and the economies in our region; and
- WHEREAS, reports about serious congestion at the Canada - U.S. border have generated concern and uncertainty in the business community; now therefore be it
- RESOLVED, that the Midwestern Governorsí Conference calls on Congress and the President to work to enact legislation this year that suspends implementation of Section 110 until they can ensure that any entry-exit control system, if deemed necessary, does not distrupt trade, tourism or other legitimate cross border traffic at land border points of entry.
Grant fast-track authority to the President.
Ventura signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:
Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Agri. Trade 99-MGC4 on Nov 19, 1999
- WHEREAS, The Midwestern Governorsí Conference (MGC) has recognized that agriculture producers are primarily family-owned farms and cannot compete against trade barriers such as prohibitive tariffs, excessive requirements for food items unrelated to the safety of the product, and the continued existence of state trading enterprises; and
- WHEREAS, Markets such as Europe are not approving US agricultural technology rapidly enough to allow for US products to stay competitive; now therefore be it
- RESOLVED, The MGC is committed to ensuring US agricultural exports are able to move freely in all foreign markets in order to strengthen the economic situation of the agriculture industry;
- RESOLVED, That because the Seattle Ministerial is seen as a unique opportunity to highlight American agricultural products to the WTO delegates
and to insure that agriculture trade issues are not left unresolved as in previous international trade negotiations, the MGC urge US negotiators to refrain from finalizing any sector agreements, until all sector agreements are successfully negotiated;
- RESOLVED, That the MGC call upon Congress to support fast-track authority to be granted to the President;
- RESOLVED, That the MGC call for the elimination of foreign export subsidies, dumping activities, and unjustified import quotas and include these issues in negotiations with the WTO;
- RESOLVED, That the MGC urge that the United States Trade Representative focus WTO agricultural negotiations on gaining approval for new US agricultural products and technology in other markets; and
- RESOLVED, That the MGC call for the establishment of a speedy resolution process within the WTO for addressing the issues of non-tariff barriers.
Page last updated: Dec 16, 2019