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Most Democrats Believe They Benefit From Trade, New CEA Poll Shows


Heading into the Democratic National Convention, 62 percent of Democrats report they benefit from free trade and 69 percent said it was a “good thing” that trade and global manufacturing have reduced the costs of consumer electronics sold in the United States. The survey of 3,440 people, including more than 1,200 Democrats, was conducted earlier this month by Zogby International.

In addition, the majority of Democrats believe that overseas trade has been a personally positive development, particularly in consumer electronics. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats said they support overseas trade of technology and electronics devices, according to a new survey released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®.

“This survey shows that rank-and-file Democrats understand the importance of trade and free markets to our economic future,” said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “Congress appears out of touch with the American voter. When Congress returns to Washington after the conventions, lawmakers should immediately pass the Colombian trade agreement and demonstrate to the world that as a great nation, the United States does not fear overseas competition.”

The survey was conducted to test perceptions of trade as CEA’s 28-state “America Wins with Trade” bus tour arrives in Denver for the Democratic National Convention to promote the importance of trade to American jobs and U.S. economic growth. After holding events in Denver, the CEA bus will continue its seven-week tour to Minneapolis/St. Paul at the Republican National Convention. CEA will release the Republican results of the survey next week.

Full details and other highlights from the Zogby survey include:

* Sixty-seven percent of Democrats said they support overseas trade of technology and electronics devices.

* Sixty-nine percent said it was a “very good” or “somewhat good” thing that overseas trade and global manufacturing had reduced the costs of consumer electronics. Sixty-two percent said they benefit from overseas trade.

* Democrats are more likely to view trade as a good thing even if it forces Americans to become more competitive. Forty-six percent said it was “a good thing” that trade reduced costs of food, electronics and clothing even though it required Americans to become more competitive with workers overseas. Only 32 percent of Democrats called that a “bad thing.”

* Only one in six Democrats reported that anti-trade sentiment was a result of legitimate complaints that America was being taken advantage of.

The survey was conducted from August 12-14 and has a margin of error of 1.7 percent.

Spurred by trade, the consumer electronics (CE) industry is projected to generate $1.4 trillion in direct business activity this year and directly employ more than 4.4 million Americans. Trade plays a critical role in the industry’s health – for example one in seven of those jobs, or about 616,000 jobs, is directly tied to America’s trade overseas.

Of CEA’s 2,200 members, 80 percent are small and mid-sized companies with revenues of $30 million or less. For companies of this size in particular, trade is crucial for business growth and domestic job creation.

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 (WTO), bilateral trade agreements offer the next best way to open foreign markets to U.S. small businesses. Trade agreements create sales opportunities, reduce costs and diminish uncertainties. Through trade agreements the U.S. can implement intellectual property rights standards, establish substantive investment protections and provide increased transparency to U.S. exporters. Currently, CEA urges Congress to pass the Colombia, Panama and Korea Free Trade Agreements.

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

* Eliminate non-tariff barriers. 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 U.S. must commit to maintaining and enforcing those agreements already in place. The U.S. 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 U.S. 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.


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