Presidential Candidates on Trade

For Immediate Release
May 14, 2008

Presidential Candidates Get Specific on Trade
Senators Clinton and Obama Detail Their Views for the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign
PORTLAND, OR — Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama detailed their views on trade policy in questionnaire responses released today by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. According to their responses, both believe that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has done more to hurt than to help the U.S. economy, and that United States needs to change the way it conducts international trade. The Democratic candidates both voiced support for renegotiating NAFTA and expressed opinions on the different provisions of existing trade pacts.

“The unprecedented amount of attention presidential candidates are devoting to trade policy reflects the broad public perception that existing trade agreements are not benefiting ordinary Americans,” said Arthur Stamoulis, director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. “The increased focus on trade in the current election has shifted the political debate from whether past trade policies were sound to what new policy changes are required.”

In addition to voicing support for new labor and environmental standards in trade agreements, both Senators Clinton and Obama expressed support for:

  • Eliminating corporate tax breaks that act as an incentive for offshoring U.S. jobs;
  • Eliminating trade provisions that grant foreign investors greater rights than U.S. citizens;
  • Insisting that new trade agreements require imported products to meet U.S. safety standards; and
  • Allowing developing countries to protect themselves from agricultural dumping.

Senator Obama also expressed support for renegotiating existing trade agreements to allow for “Buy America” and “Buy Local” procurement policies, while Senator Clinton expressed support for prioritizing American global warming policies over existing trade agreement obligations.

National polling results released May 1 by the Pew Research Center found, “There is now broad agreement that free trade negatively affects wages, jobs and economic growth in America. By greater than six-to-one, the public says free trade agreements result in job losses rather than in new jobs.” More so, a greater majority of independent voters had a negative view of the impact of free trade than registered Democrats.

“The fact that so many independent voters are unhappy with the direction of U.S. trade policy suggests that trade will continue to be a major election issue through November,” said Stamoulis.

Senator John McCain refused to respond to the questionnaire. Congressman Ron Paul failed to answer the specific questions posed in the questionnaire, but did provide a statement available on the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign’s website. Dr. Paul’s statement and the full questionnaire responses of Senators Clinton and Obama are available online at:

The Oregon Fair Trade Campaign is a statewide coalition of more than twenty labor, environmental and human rights organizations that advocates for trade policies that prioritize quality jobs in communities across Oregon; create markets for Oregon products by raising living standards in neighboring countries; enforce consistent standards for labor and the environment across borders; and allow local producers to compete on a level playing field.


Summary of Presidential Candidates’ Views on Trade (PDF)
Hillary Clinton’s Completed Questionnaire (PDF)
Barack Obama’s Completed Questionnaire (PDF)
Ron Paul’s Response (PDF)

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