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CEA Tackles Fear Mongering On Trade


Calling international trade a vital component of the nation’s economy, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® President and CEO Gary Shapiro today announced a campaign to challenge protectionism. Shapiro also decried the unbalanced support of protectionism expounded by certain opponents of international trade, such as CNN’s Lou Dobbs, and challenged the CNN anchor to a live debate on his show.

In an October 2007 poll of more than 10,000 Americans conducted by Zogby International for CEA:

* Seventy-eight percent believe a television news anchor who speaks out against international trade while his network promotes his program overseas and garners foreign advertising revenue can be labeled a “hypocrite”; and
* Among those who had an opinion, a 2:1 ratio of respondents say criticizing international trade sends the wrong message that the U.S isn’t good enough to compete globally, and that it fears foreign competition.

“The facts are indisputable—without international trade, our nation would not have the greatest economy in the world,” said Shapiro. “If we accept messages of fear without acknowledging the facts, we will adopt a defeatist approach that will only hurt our economy and the innovative businesses and talented workers that would otherwise bring more jobs and opportunities to Americans than ever before.”

Shapiro issued a direct challenge to Dobbs to present his viewers with a balanced view of international trade. “I am prepared to debate Lou Dobbs live on his CNN show,” Shapiro said. “His anti-trade comments on his cable show and his refusal to grant equal time to opposing viewpoints are inconsistent with CNN’s great legacy as a pioneering news network. We are hopeful that CNN will wish to retain its credibility and allow equal time for pro-free trade viewpoints.

“We should not promote a climate of fear. A great nation like the United States isn’t afraid to compete and to win on the international market.”

Shapiro noted that trade is a vital component of the expansion of the U.S. consumer electronics industry. Of the two million American jobs generated by the industry, hundreds of thousands are connected to trade. In addition, nearly half of CEA’s 2,100 member companies, of which 80 percent are small businesses, report that exporting to a new market within the next 12 months is important to them. High tech is America’s largest export sector ($220 billion), making up 21 percent of total U.S. exported goods in 2006.

Earlier this month, CEA launched a new trade initiative to focus Congress on the importance of trade to U.S. job creation in the electronics industry. In its new 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 U.S. America will stall and the U.S. 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. The United States must take an aggressive stance to protect products already covered by the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITS). 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 intended duty-free benefits.


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