Bush defends open trade, hits protectionism

In a strong defense of international trade  and the pending U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, President George W. Bush in a Fox interview today also worried that many world leaders think that the U.S. is turning “inward.” The Baltimore Sun today posted a transcript of the president’s interview with Neil Cavuto, which will appear on Fox tonight.  In the interview, President Bush said:

BUSH: I fear that a great nation like the United States becoming protectionist – that means that we’re not opening up markets, that we’re turning inward – we’ll miss, one, economic opportunity and, two, miss leadership opportunities.

I mean, these leaders that I talk to – and I talk to leaders a lot
– are just, one, amazed and, two, very concerned that the United States is turning inward.

You know, people who worry about global poverty, for example — and I do – must understand that the best way to help people come out of poverty is for there to be economic vitality. And the best way to create economic vitality is for there to be trade of goods and services.
And, you know, I hear people say, “Well, I’m for free trade. I just want it to be fair trade.” Well, if Colombia’s goods and services come, as a result of the acts of Congress, many of whom are now opposing this bill, they have said, “Let their goods and services come in duty-free.”
And all I’m saying is, if you let Colombia’s goods come in duty-free, you owe the same thing to American job-creators and American workers.

In his interview, he also strongly criticized the Senate and the House support for the new Farm Bill, which survived a Presidential veto this week.

. . . the truth of the matter is they send a clear message that they’re willing to pass a massive farm bill to pay rich people to farm and a massive farm bill that sends a lot of taxpayer money at a time when commodity prices are high.