August 14, 2008 / 2:58 PM / 11 years ago

FACTBOX - Trade issues in the U.S. presidential race

(Reuters) - The U.S. presidential election on November 4 will be a contest between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

Following are some of McCain and Obama’s main positions on trade — a contentious issue in this election.


* Free Trade Agreements. Supports congressional approval of deals the Bush administration has negotiated with Colombia, South Korea and Panama and wants to negotiate a new free trade pact with the 27 nations of the European Union.

* North American Free Trade Agreement. Says the United States has benefited from the 14-year-old pact and opposes any “unilateral” U.S. effort to force changes in the agreement.

* World Trade Talks. Favours completion of the Doha round of world trade talks that were launched in 2001 with the goal of helping developing countries prosper through trade.

* Fast Track. Wants renewal of “fast track” negotiating authority that allows the White House to negotiate trade deals that Congress must approve or reject without changes

* Trade Enforcement. Believes negotiation of trade agreements must be accompanied by effective enforcement to make sure other countries live by the rules.

* Retraining. Wants to overhaul unemployment insurance to make it a program for retraining, relocating and assisting workers who have lost their jobs.

* Immigration. Promises action to secure U.S. borders, followed by a temporary worker program to meet U.S. labour needs and deal with the many undocumented workers already in the United States. Wants market forces to play a greater role in determining the number of low-skilled and highly skilled foreigners who can work in the United States.


* North American Free Trade Agreement. Wants to work with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to amend the pact to strengthen labour and environmental protections.

* U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Believes Colombia must do more to reduce murders and other violence against trade unionists before Congress votes on the pact.

* U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Wants to renegotiate the pact to strengthen “badly flawed” agricultural and manufacturing provisions that he says fail to adequately open South Korea’s market to U.S. exports.

* World Trade Talks. Says would work to complete a Doha agreement that would increase U.S. exports, support good jobs in America, strengthen the rules-based multilateral system, and advance development of the world’s poorest countries.

* Trade Enforcement. Believes the United States needs to be more aggressive in filing cases against the World Trade Organization against countries that violate global trade rules to keep out U.S. goods.

* Retraining. Wants to update the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program by extending it to service industries, creating flexible education accounts to help workers retrain, and providing retraining assistance for workers vulnerable to dislocation before they lose their jobs.

* China. Favours stronger action, including possible U.S.

cases at the World Trade Organization, to pressure Beijing on trade and currency practices that hamper U.S. exports.

* Fast track. Wants to revamp “fast track” trade negotiating authority to give Congress a greater role in selecting countries for free trade talks.

* Labour. Wants all trade agreements, including the WTO, to include binding obligations protecting the right to collective bargaining and other core labour standards recognize by the International labour Organization.

* Environment. Wants to add binding environmental standards to trade agreements so companies from one country can not gain an economic advantage by destroying the environment.

* Immigration. Supports additional personnel and other resources on the border to stop illegal immigration and promises to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. Favours reforms that allow more foreign workers to legally enter the country to meet demands for jobs that U.S. employers can not fill. Supports requiring undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.

Editing by Bill Trott

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