Times Reporter

July 28, 2005

Ney says he’ll vote against CAFTA

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON – Rep. Bob Ney announced Wednesday night he would vote against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which he said fails to address any of the economic problems facing the nation.

In a statement released prior to a House vote on the controversial measure, Ney, R-St. Clairsville, said he could not support a treaty that “would do nothing to address” the $600 billion trade imbalance, job loss in Ohio, outsourcing of American jobs and illegal immigration.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, who opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, said he would vote in favor of CAFTA.

In terms of his congressional district, Regula said, the agreement “will mean more jobs in the short term as farmers, food processors and other manufacturers will now be able to export to this region without the 10 to 30 percent tariffs on their goods.”

Regula added that over the long term the measure would mean lower sugar prices, making the production of jams, confections and baked goods more competitive in the area.

Breaking with the majority of his Republican colleagues in the House as well as President Bush, who made passage of CAFTA a priority, Ney said before the nation lowers any more trade barriers, “we must review the consequences of the policies of the past and address the problems of the present.”

The agreement would lower trade and investment barriers between the United States and six nations – the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica.

Advocates argued that CAFTA would establish a level playing field benefiting the United States by reducing tariffs on U.S. exports to the region. Almost 80 percent of Central American imports already enter the United States duty free, they said.

Opponents contend the agreement would make it easier for American companies to move production overseas, resulting in job losses in the United States.

Reps. Ted Strickland, D-Lisbon, Sherrod Brown, D-Lorain, and Tim Ryan, D-Niles, all planned to vote against CAFTA.

Ney, who has a mixed record on free-trade legislation, did not reveal how he would vote until shortly before House consideration of the measure. He said he met with “countless individuals and organizations on both sides of this important debate” before making a decision.

The Senate approved the agreement June 30.