Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper released a five-page outline for his "New Open and Fair Trade Policy" on Tuesday. The plan highlights Hickenlooper's work in Colorado as an example of how he plans to bring job growth and economic strength to the rest of the United States, if elected president.
"I think what's really interesting is the Democratic party has really struggled to answer Trump's trade policy," said Lauren Hitt, Hickenlooper's communication director. Hitt told CBS News that Colorado's former governor is really the first 2020 Democratic candidate to present a plan to "re-energize trade with the world."
His plan proposes more trade cooperation and includes adding climate change goals into trade agreements. Hickenlooper is also proposing a new system of "Individual Security Accounts" or ISAs, a tool that would use federal assistance to help workers train for new job skills. The former governor is a proponent of fair trade and outlined five key elements to his trade policy:
• Ensure trading partners adopt and enforce fair labor and safety standards
• Ensure the protection of IP rights of American companies
• Require trading partners to enforce environmental and climate standards
• Ensure U.S. firms enjoy equitable and comparable investment rights abroad
• Ensure U.S. workers have assistance to adjust to job displacement from trade
- Read Hickenlooper's plan here:
The Democratic contender attacked President Trump's tariff war and departure from trade agreements, calling them the president's "most harmful and short-sighted actions."
Economist Peter Navarro, director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, argues Mr. Trump's tough stance on trade and utilization of tariffs are boosting the American economy. Two weeks ago, the Trump administration estimated the new North American trade deal or USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) will create 76,000 automotive sector jobs within five years, according to a Reuters report.
"One of the core promises that swept President Donald Trump into office was that he would renegotiate better deals for the United States with our traditional trading partners," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.
Republicans call USMCA a stronger agreement that, if passed by Congress, would replace NAFTA or the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The president's tariff war has complicated Republican support of USMCA. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published on Monday, Republican Senator and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Chuck Grassley, wrote plain and simple: "If these tariffs aren't lifted, USMCA is dead."
Grassley's comments specifically target the tariffs the Trump administration has placed on the USMCA's two partners: Canada and Mexico.
"I've met with congressional colleagues, as well as U.S., Canadian and Mexican trade officials, to discuss how our nations will secure legislative approval of USMCA. A significant roadblock is the administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum and retaliatory Canadian and Mexican tariffs on U.S. products. These levies are a tax on Americans, and they jeopardize USMCA's prospects of passage in the Mexican Congress, Canadian Parliament and U.S. Congress," Grassley wrote.
When asked whether he supports the USMCA, Hickenlooper's communications director said the former Colorado governor is looking forward to hearings on the agreement. "We need to make sure all parties agree that the labor standards are clear and enforceable," Hitt said in a statement.
A two-term Governor of Colorado, Hickenlooper served from 2011 to 2019. In 2018, Colorado exported $8.3 billion of made-in-America goods to the world, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. In 2016, exports from Colorado supported an estimated 40 thousand jobs.
Hickenlooper plans to unveil his economic agenda and a few more policy plans while in New Hampshire on May 3rd.