Free trade and fair questions
In May Congress gave President Bush a two-year extension on "fast-track" authority to negotiate both a U.S.- Mexico Free Trade Agreement and the multilateral General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). "Fast track" means that the administration negotiates the agreements and submits them to Congress to be voted up or down without amendment. The May 23 House vote was 231 against a resolution to deny fast track and 192 in favor; on May 24 the Senate voted 59-36 against fast track denial.
Bush promised Congress to consider environmental, labor and consumer concerns.
Source: New York Times, Friday, May 24 1991; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 1991.
Benefits to three countries?
"We strongly feel that the proposed Free Trade Agreement between Mexico and the U.S./ Canada, whose concept Motorola is fully supporting, can bring substantial benefits to the three countries.
"We can make such a statement based on our 33 years of operating in Mexico, generating sales in Mexico for both local and U.S. imported products, as well as sales in the U.S. and other world markets for products partially built in Mexico. Motorola is a global corporation. Forty-four percent of our sales in 1990 were outside the U.S.
Source: Noe Kenig, corporate vice president and director, Latin American Operations, Motorola Inc., U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) hearing, April 10, Chicago.
"Some Chicago-area companies that moved all or part of their operations to cities in Mexico under the maquiladora program" (Maquiladoras are manufacturing assembly plants in Mexico owned by U.S. or other multinational corporations):
A.C. Nielson Co.; Advance Transformer; American Hospital Supply; American Safety Equipment;
BRK Electronics (Pittway Corp. Div.); Baxter Intl. Inc; Boss Mfg.; Brunswick Corp.; Coilcraft; Cooper Lighting; Corcom Inc.; Daniel Woodhead Inc.; Eureka Mfg. Co.; Gould Electric Products; Household Mfg. Co.; James Electronics Corp.; Lamkin Leather and Rubber Co; Light-o-lier, Fox Valley (Gentlite Corp.); Magnecraft Electric Co.; Magnecraft Inc.; Matsushita Industrial Co.; Marsh Instrument; Michimen America Inc.; Modern Filters; North America Phillips; Outboard Marine Corp.; Quaker Oats Co. (Fisher-Price Div.); R.R. Donnelley & Sons; Rheem Mfg. Co.; Seatt Corp.; Shure Bros. Inc.; Standard Component; Standard Grisby Inc.; Stewart-Wamer Corp. (Bassick Casters); Sundstrand Corp.; Switchcraft Inc.; Trigometer; Vida Industries Inc.; Wells Lamont Corp.; Zenith Electronics Corp.
Source: Don Turner, assistant to the president, Chicago Federation of Labor AFL-CIO. ITC hearing.
$4-5 a day?
"On the Mexican side there is a pool of about 4.5 million unemployed people and maybe another 12 million underemployed. Each year another million people are added to the labor force. Wages have been declining and now stand at $4-5 a day, or about one-tenth of that in the U.S.A. Trade unions are puppets of the government."
Source: George E. Ogle, executive director of Illinois IMPACT, public policy and legislative arm of the Illinois Conference of Churches, Springfield. ITC hearing.
A win/win situation?
". . . Caterpillar estimates that Mexico's economy would grow by an additional 1 to 1.5 percent on top of an already favorable outlook for the 1990s. . . . [I]t's been our experience that increased economic growth almost always stimulates demand for American exports."
Source: William C. Lane, international governmental affairs representative. Caterpillar Inc. NGA Midwest Hearing.
"It seems that agribusiness wants to set up food-processing sweatshops and chemical-intensive factory farms in Mexico, then ship the products back into the U.S. across an open border. Once U.S. family farmers have to compete with this agro-maquila system, shippers and food processors in this country will continue to try to drive our already low prices, still lower."
Source: Richard Wood, executive director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Rochester. ITC hearing.
A level playing field?
"The Illinois Farm Bureau is strongly supportive of fast track because we believe one of the best ways to enhance farm income is through foreign trade. We think we can compete with any other country with agriculture in the world. If we can gain a level playing field, we will indeed benefit from trade."
Source: Jon Scholl, director of national legislation, Illinois Farm Bureau.
Try something new?
"A strategy of pushing for international worker rights through trade policy . . . provides an alternative to so-called 'free trade' policies, which give corporations license to exploit workers without regulation. It also is distinct from protectionism, which would eventually close international markets to products made by U.S. workers and do nothing to boost living standards — and buying power — of people in the Third World."
Source: Matt Win, "The Real Trade Wars," Solidarity Across Borders: Labor Research Review 13, Midwest Center for Labor Research, Chicago.
The general funds end-of-month balance in May was $72.296 million. The average daily balance was $97.964 million. The general funds balance was illusory because the comptroller was holding $164 million in unpaid bills
Source: Office of the Comptroller.
In May the nation's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.9 percent, up from 6.6 percent in April. In Illinois the May rate was 6.0 percent, down from April's 6.4 percent.
In May the state's civilian work force had 5.979 million people; 5.623 million had job; 356,000 people were unemployed.
Final unemployment rates in March for the state's metropolitan areas were:
Aurora-Elgin, 7.6 percent.
Source: Department of Employment Security
Margaret S. Knoepfle
4/July 1991/Illinois Issues