Updates from the trade wars, which I've been following as a way of reminding us how important trade is to the Seattle and Northwest economy:
1. Canadian mayors, angry over the 'êbuy American'ê provision included in the Obama stimulus legislation have passed a resolution supporting Canadian cities that choose to retaliate against U.S. firms. Other key trading partners, including Singapore and Japan, are also expressing concern and threatening to retaliate because their firms aren'êt allowed to compete for infrastructure projects funded by stimulus dollars.
2. Mexican trucking companies have filed for arbitration under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), seeking $6 billion in damages from the U.S. over another provision in the stimulus bill, this one banning Mexican trucks from the U.S. American business groups, including grocers, are begging the administration to work this out with the Mexicans before more jobs are lost.
3. And after promising to push for passage of the Panama Free Trade Agreement, one of three such agreements negotiated by the Bush administration but not yet passed by Congress, the Obama administration has now decided to shelve the agreement for the foreseeable future after unions and anti-trade Democrats objected.
So free trade agreements remain on ice, and our NAFTA partners have begun the inevitable rounds of retaliation for our anti-trade actions. Meanwhile, one in three jobs in Washington state is dependent on trade. Canada is America'ês largest trading partner, with 153,000 Washington jobs dependent on trade with Canada. No state has more to lose from this gathering storm than we do. Thought you might like to keep that in mind.