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CEA President And CEO Gary Shapiro Takes On Cnn’s Lou Dobbs And His Anti-Trade, Protectionist Positions


Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® President and CEO Gary Shapiro last night took on CNN’s Lou Dobbs and his anti-trade, protectionist positions during a live “debate” on the cable network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

“Everyone knows you are a protectionist – you want to close the borders,” said Shapiro. When Dobbs protested that he did not consider himself protectionist, Shapiro responded: “You may not be a protectionist, but you play one on TV.”

Pointing out that Dobbs often slants and fragments the facts on free trade, Shapiro established that trade supports jobs and economic growth by opening previously closed-off overseas markets. For instance:

* While Dobbs claims that trade has resulted in the loss of three million jobs, he ignores the fact that over that same period 25 million good jobs were created.
* While Dobbs rails against agreements such as NAFTA, he conveniently ignores that before NAFTA, the average unemployment rate was around 7 percent and in the 14 years since it has been about 5 percent.
* While Dobbs frets over imports into this country he ignored the fact that $220 billion of high-tech products, which includes consumer electronics, were exported from this country, and that many of the companies that produced those products were small and medium-sized companies that are the lifeblood of the U.S economy. Moreover, he doesn’t even address that the percentage of exports from the United States to the world has gone up by 4,000 percent (1,000 percent in real terms) over the last 42 years.
* When Dobbs belittled the jobs that have been created by the consumer electronics industry, he belittled the hard-working men and women who work for companies here in the United States that help spur the engine of the American economy – the very people he claims to be fighting for.

CEA is calling on Congress to approve pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. “What these agreements do, Lou, is the agreements allow us to get into other countries, that’s why it baffles me that you oppose them,” added Shapiro.

“Free trade is good for the country,” Shapiro told Dobbs. “And as much as you say you are a free trader, you don’t want free trade agreements, you oppose them every chance you get, and that’s not good for this country, Lou.”

Dobbs responded by saying that our trade deficit is growing out of control. Shapiro pointed out that oil imports contribute to that deficit and that our exports are going up. “Your answer is to put up a wall around the United States and that would help us how?”

Dobbs claimed he doesn’t want to put up a wall around the United States but instead insists on an equal trade balance with our principal trade partners. “You have an Economics degree from Harvard and you know that’s unprecedented and undoable and unlikely and would hurt the people of this country. Give me an example of when a protectionist policy like that has ever been successful,” requested Shapiro.

In its trade campaign, CEA has called on Congress to pursue a pro-growth trade policy that includes:

* Aggressively pursuing bilateral trade agreements. In the absence of an agreement in the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization, bilateral trade agreements offer the next best way to open foreign markets to U.S. small businesses. They create sales opportunities, reduce costs and diminish uncertainties. Through trade agreements we can implement intellectual property rights standards, establish substantive investment protections, and provide increased transparency to U.S. exporters.

* Reauthorize trade promotion authority. Without trade promotion authority our trading partners will be reluctant to negotiate trade pacts with the United States. America’s hands will be tied, and the United States will fall behind other nations negotiating trade agreements at an unprecedented pace.

* Eliminate non-tariff barriers. These non-tariff barriers hinder trade and burden small companies with unnecessary compliance costs. Examples of these barriers include: cumbersome customs regulations; corrupt government procurement processes; and most recently, a proliferation of divergent or non-harmonized approaches to environmental standards, among others.

* Uphold and enforce trade agreements. In addition to pursuing new agreements, the United States must commit to maintaining and enforcing those agreements already in place. The United States must take an aggressive stance to protect products already covered by the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The ITA covers over 97 percent of the world trade in information technology products, and provides for the elimination of duties on those covered products. But as technology has evolved, many countries claim that the ITA does not apply to the next generation of covered products. It is crucial for the United States to uphold provisions of the ITA that allow for future developments of IT products and enable companies to enjoy the full scope of the agreements intended duty-free benefits.

For more information on the CEA trade initiative, please go to the CEA website at

About CEA:
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $161 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,200 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES - Where Entertainment, Technology and Business Converge. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services. Find CEA online at


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