Warren rolls out new trade plan with Rust Belt visit

Posted at 10:04 AM, Jul 29, 2019

Elizabeth Warren released a sweeping new trade plan Monday that would seek to defend American jobs by negotiating to raise global labor and environmental standards.

“As President, I won’t hand America’s leverage to big corporations to use for their own narrow purposes — I’ll use it to create and defend good American jobs, raise wages and farm income, combat climate change, lower drug prices, and raise living standards worldwide,” Warren wrote in a new Medium post. “We will engage in international trade — but on our terms and only when it benefits American families.”

She will take her pitch to the Rust Belt with a campaign event in Toledo, Ohio, on Monday night ahead of the two-night second Democratic debate in Detroit, Michigan, hosted by CNN.

The Massachusetts senator wrote that she would not strike any trade deals unless partner countries meet a series of ambitious preconditions regarding human rights, religious freedom and labor and environmental practices, among other issues. She said she would renegotiate existing free trade agreements to ensure other countries with meet the higher standards — some of which the United States itself doesn’t currently meet, such as being a party to the Paris climate agreement — as well.

She also pledged to push for a new “non-sustainable economy” designation to give her the ability to punish countries with poor labor and environmental practices.

The far-reaching plan fits with her record on trade issues, highlighting her focus on protecting labor interests over those of big corporations, as well as holding countries the United States trades with to tougher standards. The trade agenda is the third proposal in Warren’s “economic patriotism” theme unveiled earlier this year.

In her Medium post, Warren went after the President’s handling of trade, saying he has taken a “corporate-friendly approach” and leaned on tariffs as a long-term solution. She also slammed his trade wars for hurting American farmers.

Democrats have fought to establish distinctions between Trump’s brand of protectionism and their own stances amid his ongoing trade wars with China and Europe, which have drawn criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Warren’s strategy, which emphasizes progressive priorities that haven’t typically been incorporated into trade policy, could be as disruptive in its own way. Throughout the two-dozen bullet points in her plan, Warren promises to upend the global trading system and to wield trade policy in new, creative ways to advance her goals — albeit very different ones than Trump’s.

Warren’s plan includes a number of standard Democratic positions, such as getting rid of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system, which allows corporations to sue governments for damages over trade agreement breaches, and strengthening labor enforcement provisions in existing and new trade deals. But it also involves an array of more unconventional proposals, like protecting the use of domestic subsidies and preferential treatment for companies with eco-friendly practices from challenges at the World Trade Organization.

Warren didn’t shy away from protectionist policies, endorsing a carbon tax for imported goods made using “carbon-intensive processes” and splitting with the practice of mutual recognition used for approved foreign food safety standards, promising she would beef up inspections at the border and require imported food to meet domestic food standards.

But she added she would seek to review all existing tariffs every six months and would get rid of the restrictions “if companies can’t demonstrate the benefits of the duties are going to their workers.”

Warren also highlighted a desire for more accountability, vowing to give the American people and members of Congress more of a say in trade deals. She would open up secretive negotiations by requiring US officials to disclose negotiating drafts to the public during the dealmaking process.

“My plan represents a new approach to trade — one that uses America’s leverage to boost American workers and raise the standard of living across the globe,” she concluded in the post. “The President has a lot of authority to remake trade policy herself. When I’m elected, I intend to use it.”